Press releases from Countrywide:
Mild winter impacts trading results for Countrywide Farmers
Leading supplier of products and advice to the rural community, Countrywide Farmers, today announced full year results to 31st May 2014 as the mild winter of 2013/14 and a falling commodity market significantly impacted the financial performance
Figures released today reveal a 2.5% fall in group turnover to £298.2m(2013: £306.0m) and a fall in operating profit before exceptional costs to £1.9m(2013:£4.3m).
“These are disappointing results, particularly in the light of last year” commented Chairman Nigel Hall, “however the reasons are very clear. Trading conditions in general remain challenging and though the Company is well placed to address this environment, the mild winter impacted upon our business with a fall in volumes of 20% in LPG sales and 15% in compound feed sales”.
“We are confident that 2015 will see an improvement as we believe progress can be made across all areas of the business. A more normal winter will also have a positive impact upon profit. Our growth strategy remains focused on delivering a true multi-channel approach to service our customers and to increase market share. Our investments in Customer Relationship Management (CRM) and a fully integrated IT platform will help deliver substantial progress in the near term". Concludes Mr Hall.
Commenting on the results John Hardman, Chief Executive recognised the impact of the weather but believes the underlying strength of the business is robust and that the future performance of the business will be significantly improved by the further development of its multi-channel strategy.
“We have finished the analysis and design stage of Project Fusion, a project looking at overhauling all processes across the business and implementing a fully integrated IT platform. We are now ready to implement technology which will draw together our existing 53 store network, in-field sales team, on-line, E-commerce and telephone traders, all aimed at enhancing the experience of our customers and making it easier for them to access the products they need, as well as driving efficiency across the business”.
Sales from Countrywide Farmers agriculture and energy business saw a decline in turnover to £201.8m (2013 - £214.4m) due to lower LPG and compound feed volumes.
The alternative feeds and arable business both showed increases in turnover and operating profit. The arable business has grown significantly and the integration of the trading businesses acquired over the last 2 years has created a strong platform with the ambition in the near term to trade 1million tonnes of grain and continue to offer the arable industry a growing alternative.
Although trading remained challenging during the year the retail business grew like for like sales by 0.5%, despite the mild weather adversely affecting a number of key categories. Margins fell slightly due to a successful initiative to clear terminal stock.
During 2014 more than 23,000 new customers joined the Countryclub loyalty card with total membership now exceeding 145,000.
“We now have the largest loyalty card programme within the rural sector”, comments Mr Hardman, “providing us with invaluable data to help focus our customer service. We have responded to feedback from customers and launched this year our first equine catalogue, a key component of our multi-channel strategy. ”
The UK economy is showing clear signs of recovery and increasingly observers are commenting on a return to what appears to be long term growth.
“Although some agricultural commodity prices are under pressure I believe the outlook for agriculture remains positive as global demand for food, renewable energy and rural access and development remains strong. Against this backdrop I anticipate a stronger business performance from Countrywide in 2015”
Finally I would like to thank all our employees who continue to work tirelessly in the support of our business and the rural community. They are our heritage and when armed with industry leading information technology systems will continue to be the backbone of the business as we move forward.”
Countrywide Farmers, leading supplier of products and services to the rural community, is one of the first retailers in the UK to offer a new and innovative delivery solution to its customers.
Online shoppers can now opt to have their purchases delivered to a Doddle parcel shop, to be picked up at a suitable time, avoiding the inconvenience of missed home deliveries. It follows a successful trial at Doddle’s pilot shop in Milton Keynes.
Located in Network Rail train stations and major hubs, Doddle is the UK’s first fully dedicated, staffed, online shopping collection and returns service. Over the next three years Doddle will open 300 parcel shops across the UK, the first of which include key locations at London Cannon Street, Brighton, London Waterloo, Three Bridges, Bromley and Chelmsford.
Brian McArdle, Online Channel Manager, Countrywide said: "As each Doddle parcel shop opens Countrywide customers will be able to have their items delivered to those locations. The majority of Countrywide customers are based in the rural community and subsequently spend a great deal of time living and working outside, which proves to be inconvenient when it comes to home deliveries. We have for some time been looking at various solutions to this challenge to ensure customers receive greater flexibility and value when shopping online with Countrywide.
Doddle offers a good opportunity to further grow and develop Countrywide's online offer and operate as a true multichannel rural retailer."
Online shoppers will be able to use the Doddle service on items weighing under 16 kilograms and packages measuring less than 50x50x40 centimetres in size.
Tim Robinson, Chief Executive of Doddle, said: “The Doddle service will complement and enhance the existing delivery options already open to people shopping online with Countrywide Farmers. Our dedicated shops are open seven days a week, early until late, which means they fit in perfectly with people that spend large parts of the day away from home.”
3,000t of feed barley exported to Southern Ireland marks a major milestone for the Countrywide Farmers Grain team.
The first export for the team, established in 2013, the shipment departed Poole docks on 21st July and will be swiftly followed by a consignment of oilseed rape to fuel the German bio diesel market.
“This first export is a real landmark for Countrywide Grain as our business continues to develop,” says Countrywide Grain Manager, Edd Britton. “We have had considerable local support allowing us to keep haulage rates down and pass the benefit back to our customers. Over the next few months and, with a good harvest, we will be exporting more out of both Poole and Portbury as we continue to grow our business on the back of innovative, good and honest trading.”
Formed in 2013 from Heart of England Grain and the SM Hackett and Son businesses, both already owned by Countrywide Farmers, Countrywide Grain now trades from offices in Preston Capes, Amesbury, Wiltshire and Newport in Shropshire and benefits from close links to leading blue chip millers and major feed compounders.
“We now have substantial supply agreements,” continues Mr Britton, “and offer customers the opportunity to market a wide range of crops, from feed grains and milling wheat to malting barley, with a business they can work with and trust.”
As part of Countrywide Farmers, Countrywide Grain is the final link in a chain that extends from the supply of seed, fertiliser, chemicals and agronomic support through to the final grain contract and delivery.
“Building strong relationships is vital in business,” says Mr Britton, “and we focus on establishing strong bonds between customers and our experienced trading team, allowing them to deal with the same person from start to finish. It is all part of the Countrywide ethos and our on-going commitment to the arable sector.”
For more information please visit www.countrywidefarmers.co.uk or call Countrywide Grain on 01386 429729
Download "'Back to basics' rebuilds dairy success article"
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Sara Blackshaw Equine Category Manager from Countrywide Farmers the UK’s largest equestrian specialist answers:
We all look forward to the summer when we can spend long hours at the yard and out riding in the sunshine. However with these warm conditions arrives the horse owners’ nightmare: the fly.
What is available?
- Fly masks
- Fly rugs
- Fly spray
- Insecticidal shampoos
You can use a combination of all or just a few depending on the severity of the fly problem. Some rugs even have specially designed sprays which can be applied to the rug and can last up to 30 days.
Top advice to protect your horse from flies
- Prevent where possible - There are lots of fly rugs, masks and sprays on the market and these can be effective in preventing bites. It is important to keep rugs clean, it may be worth having two rugs – one to use while the other is being cleaned.
- A clean environment - Remove droppings and soiled bedding as soon as possible while stabled and similarly in the field, regularly poo-pick and clear out the muck heap.
- Be aware of the time - flying insects are most active in the early morning and at dusk – ensure your horse has shelter, a fresh application of spray or is rugged at these times.
- Dirt and sweat attract flies - Your horse as well as its rugs must be kept as clean as possible particularly after exercise. Hosing off or using an insecticidal shampoo is advised, although shampoos should not be overused as it will remove natural oils and dry-out skin.
- Avoid water - Insects are attracted to standing water and love warm, damp conditions so try and keep your horses away from large puddles, ponds and avoid turnout in boggy fields.
- Soothing bites - There are many products available that can soothe bites that have occurred. However if these become large, infected or if you are worried seek veterinary advice.
Your local Countrywide equestrian specialist will be able to give advice on the various fly products available including getting the right fit and picking the correct sprays and soothing creams. Safety and comfort are paramount for all equestrian products, so getting advice from an in store equestrian specialist will ensure that you have all the information you need to make the correct purchase.
Countrywide, the UK’s largest equestrian specialist, have launched a new Faecal Egg Count (FEC) service to help customers keep their horses ‘worm free’ and in peak health.
A FEC test counts how many, and what kind of parasite eggs are found within the horse’s faeces and indicates what parasites that horse is carrying - or not, as the case may be - helping owners, and their advisors, to determine the best course of treatment to follow.
Whilst worming has always been a vital part of equine health care, the development of resistant worms has meant that simply using any ‘regular wormer’ is no longer adequate and may even exacerbate the rise of resistance.
An individual approach for each horse, with a FEC test every three months, reduces unnecessary treatments, ensures the right, most accurate worming products are used and can be more successful and cost-effective.
“Even horses which graze the same pastures can carry different worms,” explains Sara Blackshaw, Countrywide’s Equine Category Manager, “with 80% of parasites being carried by only 20% of horses. It is really important to find out which parasites your horse is carrying and use the best, most appropriate wormer. That way you are doing the job in the most cost-effective way possible and, by using wormers only when needed, helping to maintain the efficacy of wormers in the future.”
Countrywide FEC kits
The tests – available as one and two horse kits – can now be bought in store at your local Countrywide. Having sent samples of their horse’s droppings in the kit’s prepaid envelope, these are tested by Westgate Laboratory and the results returned to the owner’s specified store.
Owners can then discuss the results with their Countrywide SQP, (Suitable Qualified Person), a highly trained equine specialist who will be able to analyse the results, recommend the most appropriate wormer – if one is needed - and help calculate an accurate dose.
“We recommend that you start by doing a worm count on each horse at least once every three months,” says Sara Blackshaw. “Tapeworms can also be a problem, as they rarely show their presence in a worm egg count they are better tested using an ELISA Blood Test which is available through your vet.”
For further advice on equine worming, please speak to your Countrywide SQP.
Download 'The most appropriate test for equestrian parasites'
Countrywide, the UK’s largest equestrian specialist, have launched a new Forage Analysis Service to allow equestrian customers to formulate more accurate feeding plans.
“Hay and haylage make up a large proportion of a horse’s daily feed intake, but every harvest is different and all too often we are not fully aware of its nutritional value or how it fits in with the rest of the feed plan,” says Leonie Ibberson, Countrywide Account Manager and Equine Nutrition specialist.
By measuring protein levels, metabolisable energy, minerals and trace elements in hay and haylage, the analysis allows customers to feed the right amounts of forage to their horses, whether they are good doers, performance horses or horses which are hard to keep weight on.
“Each horse’s diet should be bespoke,” confirms Leonie, “taking into account all of their inputs - from pasture, dried forage and concentrates to the nutrients they receive through licks, supplements and balancers. For us to develop accurate feeding plans we must know the value of forage.”
The new forage analysis service offers two levels of analysis and is available to order through Countrywide stores or via dedicated Account Managers.
Customers are provided with a sample bag for their hay/haylage, which should be returned to the store or their Account Manager. Within 2 weeks the analysis results, and an accompanying report, will be ready.
A forage analysis report is best used in conjunction with advice from a nutritional expert believes equine nutrition specialist Leonie.
“Our specialists can help customers to make the most of their results by supplementing the analysis with free feeding plan advice,” says Leonie. “This will cover forage, pasture and concentrate intake and takes into account the type and condition of the horse or pony. Workload and temperament are also factors that need to be considered.”
“It really is vital to understand and factor in overall nutritional values,” concludes Leonie, “particularly when developing feeding plans for competition and breeding horses. And whilst all ‘hard’ (concentrate) feeds have nutritional constituents declared on the label, most sources of forage do not.
“By working on a feed plan quantities can be adjusted, supplements added and any imbalances corrected – all benefitting the horse’s health and performance – and significantly reducing feed bills. Analysis therefore should always be the starting point for feed planning.”
Death of a Director.
Countrywide Farmers plc, one of the UK’s leading suppliers of products, services and advice to the rural community, is saddened to announce the death of Sir Ben Gill, Non-Executive Director, who passed away on Thursday 8 May 2014, aged 64.
Nigel Hall, Chairman of Countrywide, said: "Ben made a tremendous contribution to the development of Countywide during his nine and a half years on the board and he will be sorely missed by all his colleagues and friends. His strategic vision, commercial acumen and tireless enthusiasm, right to the end, are a testimony to his character. Everyone at Countrywide extends their heartfelt sympathy to his family."
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Liphook Countrywide and Denes Country Store saddle up together.
The Liphook local community helped launch the towns new look Countrywide Store at a special opening event on Thursday 1st May. Britain’s double gold Paralympic Dressage rider Natasha Baker MBE, celebrated with shoppers and Countrywide staff, and declared the store officially 'open for business'.
The store has been re-launched following a merger with Denes Country Store, previously located less than a mile away.
Steve Collard, Countrywide Stores Director, explains “Denes Country Store has been owned by Countrywide for over 3 years and merging the two stores has been a long anticipated move for the business. Customers in Liphook will now have easier access to our leading range of products, services and specialist advice, all under one roof.”
The store has been specially designed to ensure the focus is on Equestrian, Pet, Farmer/small holder supported by Country clothing/footwear along with machinery and gardening. Customers can also use in-store, on-line kiosks to browse and order from an extra 15,000 product lines, while still benefitting from one-on-one expert advice from in-store staff. Key equestrian brands on offer include Joules, NAF, Ariat and Countrywide’s own brand Kadence range. “From the stores layout, to the items that it stocks and the staff available, it has been shaped to meet the needs of Liphook’s rural community. I would like to thank everyone involved for how hard they have worked to make this project a success” says Mr Collard.
A Sales Office has been included for equestrian and farming customers to meet with Countrywide specialists: including qualified agronomists, nutritionists, animal health experts and the area’s business Sales Managers, who will split their time between working in store and out and about with customers. The office provides a dedicated area for customers who want advice or to discuss bulk deal pricing. Qualified in store specialists will be on hand at all times to advise on the best choice of product, including feed and animal health medicines.
Caroline Alexander, Countrywide Equestrian Specialist, who previously managed Denes Country store, will now be based full time at Countrywide in Liphook. “We have a very loyal and passionate equestrian customer base in this region and the merging of these stores will ensure we continue to offer value for money, a wide range of products and an improved service. As a rider myself, and fully qualified equestrian specialist, I understand what it takes to care for a horse.
“I very much enjoy getting to know our customers, offering them specialist advice and expertise on health and nutrition when required. From professional yards to amateur riders, I look forward to continuing my work with equestrians throughout Liphook and the surrounding areas.”
To mark the opening event, customers were treated to some stunning deals and discounts. Countrywide will continue this theme by offering special offers across a wide range of products throughout the store during the next 3 months.
Rita Lawson, Liphook Store Manager, who has been with Countywide for 12 years and lives within the local area, said “It has been a great evening, we have been working hard on getting the store into shape and it looks fantastic.” says Rita. “It’s all here for equestrians, farmers, smallholders and pet owners - we also have clothing and a wide range of accessories. And now customers can order anything they need in store using our on-line kiosk, which has multiple delivery options available – and still benefit from our one-to-one advice.
“We have a great team at Liphook ready to work with customers and look after all their rural requirements!”
The relaunched Countrywide store for Liphook is located on the Iping Road, Liphook.
The official opening took place at 6pm on Thursday 1st May 2014.
Managing acidosis at grass.
Managing acidosis at grass
Countrywide customer in Wales one of the UK’s top yielding herds – article in Cow Management magazine.
Improving cow facilities and herd management ‘turned on’ genetic potential
Mild autumn impacts first half results for Countrywide Farmers
Leading supplier of products and advice to the rural community, Countrywide Farmers, today announced a group operating loss of £0.5m in the six months to 30th November 2013(2012: £0.5m operating profit).
“Group sales at £143.6m showed a 3% increase on last year” commented Chairman Nigel Hall, “however retail margins declined in the face of tough trading conditions which, combined with a warm autumn, has produced a performance short of our expectations”.
In a first half of mixed fortunes, agriculture continued to grow with feed volumes finishing 14% ahead of last year and arable sales significantly recovered after the wet harvest of 2012. In contrast grain trading volumes and margins declined as a continuing consequence of the poor 2012 harvest and the warm autumn significantly affected LPG gas volumes.
“The first 6 months of the year is always our more difficult trading period”, says Mr Hall, “however we have made significant investments during this period. Our retail store portfolio has increased with additional stores in Glastonbury, a new trade counter in Marlborough and with the purchase of Abergavenny Farm Supplies a significant increase for our Raglan store. Re-launching our website has delivered an 85% increase in on line- business whilst our relationship with NFU Countryside has helped make the Countryclub Reward Card the largest loyalty scheme in the rural market”.
Following a recent strategic board review, Les Collins, Finance Director is leaving Countrywide and the business is in the process of appointing an interim FD whilst commencing the search for a permanent replacement. “Les has made a significant contribution to improving our business over the last 7 years and we wish him well for the future”, says Mr Hall.
“Finally, I announced last summer the Board’s intention to seek an AIM listing for the business that should allow a more appropriate market value and greater liquidity to be achieved for the business for the benefit of all shareholders. There are a number of enabling measures we are considering with advisers and I have nothing further to report in terms of timing at this stage”. A further update will be given alongside full year results in the summer.
“The long term outlook for UK agriculture remains positive”, says Chief Executive, John Hardman, “although the recent widespread flooding is causing concern for both arable and livestock farmers. On this note we have been donating feed and haulage and I would encourage anyone who would like to offer help to go to the NFU website or donate direct to the Farming Community Network, RABI or the Addington Fund.
“Our commitment to our farming customers continues to strengthen through investment in our agriculture portfolio bringing in key specialists and ensuring the business is structured to provide the best possible service and product choice for the farming community”, concludes Mr Hardman. “ To this end I would like to thank all our staff for their continued hard work and commitment, their passion for the industry ensures Countrywide continues to deliver a good deal better to our customers.
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Countrywide Farmers chooses DOGS for the DISABLED as Charity of the Year 2014
Countrywide Farmers has chosen Banbury based Dogs for the Disabled as its Charity of the Year 2014.
Dogs for the Disabled is a life-transforming charity, creating exceptional partnerships between people living with disability or families with a child with autism and specially trained assistance dogs.
Through practical tasks dogs can offer freedom and independence to children and adults with physical disabilities. In addition an assistance dog becomes a reason to go out, giving a new found confidence that opens doors to fresh opportunities including friendships, hobbies, education and even careers. The partnerships created between people with disabilities and dogs are life-changing.
Countrywide Farmers is the UK’s leading rural retailer with over 50 country stores and offers a wide breadth of products and services for pet owners, including feed, bedding and animal health products, delivered by specially trained in store pet specialists – who offer advice and expertise to customers.
John Hardman, CEO, Countrywide Farmers, comments, "I am delighted to announce that our new designated charity is Dogs for the Disabled. The two organisations are an excellent fit and I look forward to working in partnership during 2014.
“Dogs for the Disabled is a wonderful charity, transforming the lives of many disabled individuals. It currently supports nearly 300 adult and children assistance dog partnerships and provides an innovative support service - PAWS - for families affected by autism. Our staff will be engaging in fundraising activities throughout the year, raising money and awareness, and offering our full support when and where it’s required.
“At Countrywide we have worked hard to develop a ‘complete offer’ to dog and pet owners, including an extensive range of pet products, services and expertise, delivered to customers via qualified in store staff, who offer advice on everything from pet health and well-being to feed and nutrition.”
Peter Gorbing, Chief Executive, Dogs for the Disabled, adds “We’re thrilled that Countrywide has decided to support Dogs for the Disabled as its charity of the year and its staff fundraising will make a real difference. Dogs for the Disabled receives no government funding and relies entirely on donations to continue its work. We will train 50 new assistance dogs in 2014, but with over 2000 enquiries each year there are many more people we could help.”
For more information about Dogs for the Disabled and Countrywide Farmers, please visit www.dogsforthedisabled.org and www.countrywidefarmers.co.uk
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Directorate Change at Countrywide Farmers
Following a recent strategic board review, Les Collins, Finance Director is leaving the business. The Board of Directors would like to wish Les well for the future and thank him for his significant contribution in improving the business over the last 7 years.
Countrywide is in the process of appointing an interim Finance Director whilst it commences its search for a permanent replacement. A further announcement will be made in due course.
Sarah Francis will replace Les Collins as Company Secretary with immediate effect.
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Get your paddocks into the best condition ahead of Spring
Sara Blackshaw, Equine Category Manager offers advice on what horse owners can practically do to improve their paddocks for spring turnout.
Now is the ideal time to repair any winter damage and prepare the ground ahead of a new crop of healthy grass.
But first things first, are fences in need of repair? And do wet, boggy areas suggest poor drainage? If so, check ditches for overgrown vegetation and make sure drainage pipes aren’t blocked. For a temporary solution, a mole plough can be used to create an underground burrow through which water can drain away. Muddy areas around gateways and troughs can be given extra stability using hard core or heavy duty mesh.
After the winter, soil can be compacted. Regular harrowing is essential to remove dead material from the field surface, giving plants better light. Aerating, using a roller with knives, or a sward lifter, can allow the soil to breathe and helping plants get their roots down into the soil and its nutrients.
Now’s the time to look out for bare patches or those ‘poached’ by heavy use: if left they can quickly be overtaken by weeds. Start thinking whether to reseed these areas or bite the bullet and do the whole field in spring.
Top-seed or reseed?
For just a few bare patches the best option can be to rotivate to get a good level tilth and top-seed. However, for fields that are more than 50% mud, or full of weeds, it will be best to do a total reseed later in the spring: the benefits can be dramatic as older paddocks yield less in terms of palatable, high energy grass.
Keeping pasture in good condition will also mean weed control either by hand (poisonous ragwort needs to be dug out and burnt) or by spraying.
It is always worth knowing your soil’s nutrient levels. Soils need an index of 2 for phosphorous, potash and magnesium and soil pH should be around 6 to 6.5. Ask your Equine and Agronomy Specialists at Countrywide to advise on a fertiliser programme to ensure your grazing is providing cost effective nutrition.
Droppings should be picked up as horses won’t graze soiled areas which encourages weeds. Picking up droppings also reduces the pasture’s worm burden. If, however, the paddock is to be rested from grazing, droppings can be left to dry out (together with the worm larvae) and harrowed to give good fertiliser back to the land and improve its nutrient status.
- Consider a bark turn-out area to save paddocks in winter
- Avoid grazing grass below first leaf height - around 3cm
- Harrow, aerate and roll to stimulate healthy grass growth
- Regularly check for poisonous plants and remove anything you find. Given a short supply of grazing a horse may turn to other vegetation like ragwort.
- Rotate grazing paddocks where possible to give fields a rest and ensure that you don’t go below the recommended one acre of grazing per horse.
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New Countrywide Farmers Store for Glastonbury
The great and good of Glastonbury helped launch the town’s brand new Countrywide Farmers Store at a special opening event on Thursday 30th January.
Britain’s Olympic para-equestrian Deb Criddle, born in Somerset, and Exeter Chiefs Star Ben Moon celebrated with the local rural community and Countrywide staff as the Mayor of Glastonbury, Susan Thurgood, declared the store officially ‘open for business’.
Steve Collard, Countrywide Stores Director said, “We are delighted to open this new store in Glastonbury. This has been a long anticipated move for Countrywide Farmers and means customers in Somerset’s rural community will have better access to our leading range of products and services.
"From the stores design and layout to the items that it stocks, it has been shaped to meet the needs of this rural community. I would like to thank everyone involved for how hard they have worked to make this project a success."
Split level design
The split level store has been specially designed to ensure the focus is on agriculture, equestrian, clothing and pet products. Customers can also use in-store, on-line kiosks to browse and order from an extra 14,000 product lines, while still benefitting from one-on-one expert advice from in-store staff.
A Sales Office has been included for farming, smallholder and equestrian customers to meet with Countrywide specialists: including qualified agronomists, nutritionists, animal health experts and the area’s business Sales Managers, who will split their time between working in store and out and about with customers. The office provides a dedicated area for customers who want advice or to discuss bulk deal pricing.
Qualified in store pet and equine specialists will be on hand at all times to advise on the best choice of product, including feed and animal health medicines.
To mark the opening event, customers were treated to some stunning deals and discounts. Countrywide will continue this theme by offering special offers across a wide range of products throughout the store during the next 3 months.
Tracey Lockyer, Store Manager, who has been with Countywide for over 8 years and lives and farms within the Glastonbury area, said "It has been a great evening, we have been working hard on getting the store into shape and it looks fantastic – I just can't wait to welcome customers through the door to see what we have to offer," says Tracey. "It’s all here for farmers, smallholders, pet owners and equestrians - we also have clothing and a wide range of accessories. And now customers can order anything they need in store using our on-line kiosk, which has multiple delivery options available – and still benefit from our one-to-one advice."
"We have a great team at Glastonbury ready to work with customers and look after all their rural requirements!"
The new Countrywide store for Glastonbury is located on Wirral Retail Park, Wirral Park Road, Glastonbury (near the Orchard Veterinary Group) and is open from 8.30am 28th January 2014.
The official opening took place at 6pm on Thursday the 30th January 2014.
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Countrywide Farmers acquires Abergavenny Farm Supplies
Leading supplier of products and advice to the rural community, Countrywide Farmers, has completed its acquisition of Abergavenny Farm Supplies in a move that reinforces Countrywide’s commitment to meeting the needs of Welsh farmers.
Known as Countrywide in Association with Abergavenny Farm Supplies, the business will operate from the Countrywide store at Raglan, close to the site of the new £5 million cattle market. A full range of agricultural products is also available at Countrywide’s Abergavenny store.
Countrywide Chief Executive John Hardman believes that the two businesses are an excellent fit. "Countrywide Farmers and Abergavenny Farm Supplies share the same ethos," he said. "Both businesses lie at the heart of the Welsh farming community with an excellent range of high quality, great value products and services. This acquisition enables us to expand in an area that is of great importance to Countrywide offering a broader, more comprehensive range of products and even more experts with established agricultural knowledge and skills."
Gareth Morgan and Phil Laurent of Abergavenny Farm Supplies will join the Countrywide team at Raglan which will now supply more large scale and bulk products from post and rail fencing, gates, batteries, agriculture equipment and machinery spares as well as its competitive range of feed, seed, fertiliser, crop protection and energy products.
Speaking about the acquisition, Andrew Melmoth, Managing Director of Abergavenny Farm Supplies, who were advised on the transaction by Swansea based advisory firm Butterfield Morgan Corporate Finance Limited with legal advice from Gabb & Co Abergavenny, said: "We are delighted to be joining forces with Countrywide. This is an exciting new opportunity for us to build on past achievements and create a successful future. Customers will still be able to deal with our existing team but now also have the benefit of greater choice and flexibility in the products and services offered through Countrywide. The fact that the new Monmouthshire Cattle Market has also moved to Raglan will allow more opportunity to work with farmers in the region."
Countrywide customers have a number of ways to shop: in store; by phone; on-line at home; or on-line in store. Customers can also arrange to meet Countrywide’s agricultural specialists in store or on-farm including AMTRA qualified animal health experts, nutritionists to provide livestock rationing and management advice; arable agronomists offering services from soil sampling to crop walking, also BASIS qualified Turf & Amenity experts. New customers will be invited to become Countrywide Account Holders.
"I am delighted to welcome both the new team and new customers to Countrywide" concludes Mr Hardman, "and look forward to working with them all in the New Year."
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‘Store of the Year’ in Melton Mowbray
The nation’s no 1 Country Store is here in Melton Mowbray – that’s official!
Countrywide’s country store in Melton Mowbray has just been named Store of the Year by Over the Counter, the national retail magazine, winning the prestigious award for its excellent standards of customer service and retail experience.
The judges particularly praised the store’s “passion for its customers and understanding of the economic pressures they are under.”
“We’re delighted,” says Store Manager Murray Phillips, “we all live and breathe farming and have always prided ourselves our rapport with customers. There are so many issues facing farmers today, it is very important that they know we are always there for them as a source of advice and support. We have specialists in store at all times and make every effort to keep on top of product knowledge, new innovations and legislation. We greet most of our customers by first name as they come through the door!”
As one of 53 retail outlets owned by Countrywide, the UK’s leading supplier of products and services to the rural community, Melton Mowbray offers a vast range from farming, garden and home products to pet and equine supplies – all supported by the knowledge and advice of highly experienced staff including AMTRA qualified animal health, pet and equine specialists.
John Hardman, Countrywide Chief Executive sees the award as recognition of all that the company has been striving to achieve: “My congratulations go to Store Manager Murray Phillips and all of the staff at Melton Mowbray. It is always our aim to share in, and solve, the challenges faced by those who live in our rural communities and we have been working hard to focus our energies more intently on meeting their needs. This award for Melton Mowbray recognizes that those efforts have been noticed and appreciated.”
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Maize or wholecrop? Time to decide
The benefits of feeding maize are well established. With forage as the foundation of dairy diets – and high quality maize capable of offering at least 11.5MJ/kg ME - those that can grow it usually do. But recent poor weather and for some, marginal soil and climate, make wholecrop an alternative worth considering.
With decision time approaching, and new maize varieties entering the market, Mark Hall Commercial Nutritionist for Countrywide Farmers and Seed Manager Melanie Digger raise the key factors to consider when planning rotations.
“Last year was so difficult that some farmers decided to go out of maize completely,” says Mark Hall, “whilst others planted more to compensate for potential problems. Now, following a good year, the jury really is out. More maize? Wholecrop to be on the safe side? Or ‘some and some’ to hedge your bets?”
What is indisputable is the nutritional value of maize, the ability of its rumen bypass starch to feed high levels of energy while maintaining rumen health and development. But where to draw the line between a poor maize crop delivering less than 10 tonnes of DM/ha and a good wholecrop? And should you consider maize brought in on contract?
The case for wholecrop
“Wholecrop is more manageable to grow,” says Mr Hall. “As an arid crop, maize is sensitive to both soil type and climate, whereas you can grow wheat nearly anywhere in the country. Barley and triticale are also options for wholecrop.”
Looking at it year by year, cereals are more reliable than maize and, with winter sown crops generally performing better than spring varieties, opting for at least some fermented wholecrop gives the security of having consistent, cost-effective forage as a basis for dairy rations, either with or without the addition of maize.
“The forage that a good wholecrop produces gives around 20% starch,” says Mr Hall. “However, whereas wholecrop would, on average, yield 10-12 tonnes/ha giving 121,000MJ/ha, maize at its best averages 38-42t/ha providing around 440,000MJ/ha.”
Growing costs of approximately £375/ha* for maize, compared to £432/ha* for wheat, can be used to provide comparative energy costs:
- Maize cost per 10,000MJ/ha = £8.50
- Wholecrop cost per 10,000MJ/ha = £35.70
“Whilst this looks very attractive,” continues Mr Hall, “and is one of the reasons maize is such a fantastic feed crop, the cost of production rises in relation to crop yields. So as yield goes down maize’s cost/ton of dry matter rises – going from around £98/ton/DM to over £180 in a poor crop.”
Growing wholecrop by comparison offers other on-farm benefits. “Wholecrop is usually forage harvested around 25-50% dry matter in June or July with the most popular option being to load it straight into the clamp for silaging,” advises Mr Hall. “This gives more time to cultivate the field and plant the winter crop which is especially valuable if the weather, like this year, turns bad.”
“Some farmers have made a change from maize to wholecrop, driven by the poor recent maize growing seasons,” confirms Countrywide Agronomist Gareth Evans. “Even when choosing the earliest maturing varieties on the NIAB List they were having problems getting the subsequent winter cereal crops established in good time. Maize might be replaced for winter barley to give a rotation of short term ley, winter wheat wholecrop and winter barley wholecrop.”
New maize options
Whilst, given the hard learnt lessons of 2012, wholecrop offers welcome reliability, the benefits of high starch maize are indisputable and it has played a huge role in developing dairy cow performance.
Recent developments by maize breeders are aimed at tackling maize’s sensitivity to soil and climate, developing shorter growing times and focusing on feed efficiency. “Every litre of milk needs to be profitable and farmers need to produce sufficient quantities of high quality maize silage, targeting 30>35% DM, 30% plus starch and a minimum 11.5MJ/kg ME,” says John Morgan, Sales Manager of the UK’s leading maize breeder KWS UK.
New Maize variety - Sergio KWS
- Very Early Maturity: FAO 170
- Above average yields for its maturity
- 10% more DM yield than Kaspian
- Extra cob ripeness
- Rapid early vigour (8.1)
- Very high ME (11.5) and starch content
NIAB trials show that from 2005 to 2011, on favourable sites, average DM and metabolisable energy yields have both increased by 20%, and starch content by 24% – that’s an extra 3.9 t/ha, which at a value of £90/t DM raises the feed value of maize silage by around £350/ha.
Now, new varieties are offering significant agronomic benefits. Sergio, a new high yielding maize aimed at dairy and beef diets, combining top scores for feed values but also rapid early vigour is being launched by KWS through Countrywide Farmers.
Maize for marginal areas
“Sergio will be a real boost for those on difficult sites and in more marginal areas,” explains Melanie Digger, seeds manager at Countrywide. Farmers have been looking for ultra early varieties to get a crop in the clamp in good time, however many have simply not performed with poor cob development, and only reaching maturity as a result of a sudden die-back, senescing too quickly. This latest addition, trialled over the past two seasons, offers yields 10% above the likes of Kentaurus or Kaspian but with true early vigour and the real potential for harvesting at the desired time.”
For some, growing maize can still be marginal. “If you can grow maize successfully, it is the best option,” confirms Mr Hall, “but if you’ve had three bad years go for wholecrop, maize is an expensive crop to get wrong. Even if you do take a slight hit in terms of milk yield, it is no good including elements in the diet that don’t show in the bulk tank. Opting for at least some fermented wholecrop gives the security of having consistent, cost-effective forage as a basis for dairy rations, either with or without the addition of maize.
The other option is to buy some maize in. Depending on dry matter, maize silage works out on average at £34/ton delivered on farm £38/ton delivered up to 40 miles away which for many will be worth considering.”
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Balanced proteins key to silage potential
Despite 2013’s better silage, milk yields won’t benefit unless rations are balanced to accommodate the higher levels of rumen bypass proteins.
This is the view of Mark Hall, commercial nutritionist for Countrywide Farmers who says that while silage analysis results show ME levels towards 12, far better than last year, farmers all over the country are struggling to translate this into yields.
“Reports of fantastic silage this year have given some a false sense of security,” says Mr Hall, “and many are wondering why they are not getting the results they hoped for. In fact, silage analyses have shown unusually high levels of rumen bypass protein. To put it into context, only 30% of a cow’s protein should come from bypass protein the rest should come from rumen degradable protein (RDP) which breaks down quickly in the rumen optimising rumen health. If that protein balance isn’t right, and rumen performance is undermined, cows won’t make the most of their silage, however good it is, let alone any other feed that you add to the diet.”
What is bypass protein?
- Also called rumen escape, or undegradable protein (RUP)
- Protein from a feedstuff that escapes being digested in the rumen, by rumen microbes, to be digested in the intestines
- A good source of essential amino acids delivered straight to the intestines
- But rumen microbes need protein too!
Some farmers, in an attempt to boost milk yields, have inadvertently compounded the problem by adding bypass protein. “Extra soya and maize starch, whilst expensive ingredients, won’t do the job if protein production in the rumen isn’t what it should be,” says Mr Hall.
The signs of too much bypass protein are clear. “The cow will soon tell you,” says Mr Hall. “You will see very stiff dung with a lot of grain passing through. Also, because of the high energy you get very high butter fats, well over 4%, at the expense of milk production.”
The solution can be equally straightforward: in most cases, replacing a kilo of soya with 80g of urea and slightly increasing over all protein content. Almost instantly degraded, urea supplies some of the rumen degradable protein normally expected from silages and at £400/t as opposed to soya at £420/t it is a fast and cost-effective solution.
“Alongside other Countrywide colleagues I’ve had excellent results by rebalancing the protein fraction with urea. On a recent dairy unit, milk yields rose from 25 to 28 litres, but on average it’s been 2 litres per cow, with the lift occurring in just 3 to 4 days. Dung was much looser, with no grain coming through, all of it having been used by the cows and showing in the rise in yield.”
“With 80g of urea replacing 1kg of soya, that would save a farmer approximately 35p/head a day on the ration cost,” concludes Mr Hall, “and with the expected milk yield lift of 2 litres adds another 60p/head a day on the bottom line. For the sake of careful analysis of silage, paying particular attention to the proteins and how they degrade, and a simple, straightforward addition of urea to achieve the correct balance, it is a measure well worth taking.”
- Only 30% of cow’s protein should come from bypass protein (RUP)
- 70% should come from rumen degradable protein (RDP)
- Rebalance the protein fraction with urea for fast results
- The correct balance ensures optimum rumen activity and health
- Yield lifts of 2L/head per day, plus ration savings, can add 60p/head/day
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Keep crude protein in check for better returns
Keep crude protein in check for better returns
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Congratulations to our worthy award winners
Congratulations to our worthy award winners
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Countrywide Farmers - the growing alternative
Three new appointments have strengthened Countrywide Farmers’ aim to extend agronomy and grain marketing services throughout the UK.
George Phillips, as grain trader, will be based at Countrywide’s office in Amesbury to serve customers in the south and south west. Paul Crump joins to extend grain marketing services into Shropshire, working out of Countrywide’s retail store in Newport. Carl Taylor will develop both agronomy and grain marketing operations into new areas of Yorkshire.
“This is an exciting development for Countrywide Farmers, adds further expertise to our growing arable offer and is a real step forward in our strategy of extending grain marketing services across our whole area of operation,” says Paul Selby, Arable Business Manager. “The arable business is not only about the decisions that give high yielding crops, but the contacts and contracts that ensure those crops make the maximum profit for our customers.”
George Phillips is an experienced grain buyer, who, having worked for Wessex Grain is now “looking forward to the challenges Countrywide can offer in grain trading”. As part of the new grain trading team in Amesbury, working alongside Ed Britton, his work will complement that of recent grain trading acquisitions Heart of England Grain and S.M. Hacketts & Son.
Joining from Frontier Agriculture and Croptech, agronomist Carl Taylor, who has been in the agronomy business for over 30 years, is keen to introduce his many Yorkshire contacts to Countrywide. “For the majority of Yorkshire farmers Countrywide is a new name, a refreshing new competitor and they will welcome the extensive range of inputs, experience and expertise. I will be offering the full range of agronomy services and, alongside S.M. Hacketts, taking grain buying services into Yorkshire as well.”
Also with “the best part of 30 years” in the business, working his way from grain lab to grain trader, Paul Crump joined Countrywide in the summer following major roles at Shropshire Grain (part of the Wynnstay Group) and most recently Agrii, where he provided specialist advice on risk management, market analysis and buying strategies.
“My aim is to bring more impetus, more competition, and build business, working mostly in Shropshire, Cheshire and also down into Herefordshire,” says Mr Crump. “I strongly believe that Countrywide and I share the same values. A real affinity with farmers, care, attention and expertise in everything that we do - alongside a comprehensive understanding of individual farm requirements to help ensure growers are aware of all the opportunities in the arable market.”
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