The winners of the 2021 Royal Welsh All Wales Big Bale Competition, sponsored by BPI Agriculture (Silotite), are Gary and Jess Yeomans, Pant Farm, Llanvertherine, Abergavenny (members of Monmouthshire Grassland Society).

The judging panel – Dr Dave Davies (Silage Solutions); Stuart Anthony, (BPI Agri – sponsor); and Keith Williams, Haverhill Farm, Spittal, Haverfordwest (2020 Big Bale Silage Competition Winner) all sat down individually to assess the entries, and all three in unison had come to the same conclusion on the winner.

Dave Davies, technical judge, said: “These were stand-out winners both in terms of silage quality but also the value they were getting from their preserved forages. They have an impressive goat dairying system with conserved forage at the heart of the system. Ensiling not only grass but also utilising lucerne grass mixtures into their silage system.”

Gary and Jess farms 100ha at 300ft. The goat farm has approx 900 goats and are the approved suppliers of goat milk to The Abergavenny Creamery. They also keep 20 Welsh black suckler cows with calves; 20 store cattle; and 38 beef calves and young stock under 24 months;.

They had three harvesting cuts (May, June and August) with last year totalling over 450 bales – 50 tonnes of hay and 600 tonnes of maize.

Although they have contract baling, the rest of the harvesting work is done in-house on the farm. The crop is cut with a Lely 2.8m mower and left over a wilting period of 24hrs before being baled with a New Holland Square Chopper. Their big bale analysis showed DM 36.0 per cent, CP 17.6, D-value 70.5, ME 11.3, and pH 4.6.

Second place in the competition was Eilir Jones, Drem Ddu, Lampeter. Second place was much more tightly fought but the judges felt that Mr Jones just edged it over the other runners-up both in terms of his outputs and farming system, the quality of his stock but also in the quality of his silage compared to the other finalists.

Drem Ddu is a South West facing 240-acre farm at 800ft asl. They stock 150 dairy cows along with 73 young stock. They harvest three cuts per year (May, June/July and August/September). The silage analysis was: DM 40.2 per cent, CP 15.4, D-Value 71.9, ME 11.5, pH 4.6.

The other finalists in the competition were:

Rhydian Glyn, Rhiwgriafol, Talywern, Machynlleth (Bro Ddyfi Grassland Society);

David Griffiths, Rhosson Ganol, St Davids, Haverfordwest (North Pembs. Grassland Society); (North Pembs. Grassland Society);

Thomas Jones, Fferm Y Goitre, Pwllheli (South Caernarfon Grassland Society).