Press Releases

Press releases from Countrywide:

27th November 2014 Keep looking hard to reduce those Feed Costs more, it can be done
27th November 2014 Ewe nutrition: ‘precision pays’ says nutritionist
25th November 2014 Countrywide Farmers appoints new board director
3rd November 2014 New Welsh nutritionist for Countrywide team
15th October 2014 Countrywide Pet Event, September 2014
15th September 2014 Safety is Critical for Homeowners as They Prepare to Warm Up For Winter
11th September 2014 ‘Coals to Newcastle’ coup for Countrywide Grain
August 2014 Pick your moments….. Buying Opportunities if you’re looking!
August 2014 Great winter deals at Equestrian weekend
28th August 2014 Mild winter impacts trading results for Countrywide Farmers
28th July 2014 Leading rural business offers innovative delivery service to online shoppers
25th July 2014 Countrywide Farmers in export first
July 2014 'Back to basics' rebuilds dairy success
12th June 2014 Horse & Hound, Is your grazing damaged?
30th May 2014 Welsh dairy herd breaks into the premier league of top producers
May 2014 Just the jods...
May 2014 What can I do to minimise the impact of flies on my horse this summer?
May 2014 New FEC service – count on Countrywide
April 2014 UK equestrian specialists launch Forage Analysis Service
9th May 2014 Death of a Director.
7th May 2014 Liphook Countrywide and Denes Country Store saddle up together.
20th March 2014 Managing Acidosis at Grass.
6th March 2014 Countrywide customer in Wales one of the UK’s top yielding herds – article in Cow Management magazine.
27th February 2014 Mild autumn impacts first half results for Countrywide Farmers
21st February 2014 Countrywide Farmers chooses DOGS for the DISABLED as Charity of the Year 2014
18th February 2014 Directorate Change at Countrywide Farmers
7th February 2014 Get your paddocks into the best condition ahead of Spring

Keep looking hard to reduce those Feed Costs more, it can be done

Colin Shepherd, Northern Commodities Manager, Countrywide Farmers

By Colin Shepherd, Northern Commodities Manager, Countrywide Farmers

Over the last 3 months we have seen spot wheat prices drop to just under £100 in places, and then rally to around £120 now for spot movement for specific homes. Hipro Soya has been on offer as low as mid £270’s for May to October 2015, but spot prices are still trading around £335-340. Very good opportunities have been available at times for the likes of Wheat Distillers, Rapemeal, Maize Meal, Wheatfeed and moist feeds. This is all about being open and flexible, taking advantage of the deals when they are on offer.

What to look for now with Proteins?


Given another very good year for world production of cereals, Maize and Wheat in particular, forward cover needs to be thought through now for any energy related products. The market continues to move in cycles, we are seeing that now with milk prices as you are all too well aware. It will happen again with all feed prices. The trick is covering at a time when the market feels it has run its course at the low end, and putting sensible cover down.

In summary, in a difficult period for milk production, it is hard to pull away from the hard reality of supply and demand of all commodities. We have had unprecedented supply of feed commodities, building up over the last two years, leading to a situation of much higher stocks of both energies and proteins. However, do not be lulled into a period of inactivity, these lower prices will pull in demand from other sectors such as ethanol production. Therefore, look at your current cover percentages, and if you are comfortable for this winter then fine. But be aware of spot opportunities for products you may not historically use, if you need to buy over the next few months – good buys are out there.

Finally, keep an eye on the potential of covering product from May onwards next year. As outlined on both cereals and proteins it feels like we are close to the lower end of the cycle for both feed stocks. We would be surprised if the next two months will not offer some great buying potential for the 18 - 20 months beyond January 2015.

Ewe nutrition: 'precision pays' says nutritionist

Correct feeding and management of ewes is vital to ensure a successful lambing outcome. This is the view of Mark Hall, Commercial Nutritionist for Countrywide Farmers, who believes attention to detail and precision at every stage, from flushing prior to tupping, through to late pregnancy will be rewarded.

“Silage qualities in 2014 are generally very poor, but as always there is a large variation between farms. Supplementing silages should always be carefully considered, every year is different and feeding regimes should be adjusted accordingly,” says Mr Hall.

“The value of flushing or ‘steaming up’ in ewes should never be under estimated,” says Mr Hall. “Firstly, it gets ewes in the correct body condition score (BCS), of between 2.5 to 3.0, which helps to reduce any nutritional stressors on the system and prepares the body for mating. Secondly, it stimulates the release of insulin. Insulin is a very important hormone in the mating cycle in that it signals to the reproductive system that the body is in a sufficient nutritional state to ovulate.”

Insulin production is stimulated by the feeding of high starch compounds or concentrates and high energy lick buckets. “This is very important for the first 2-3 weeks of tupping as it is vital to get ewes cycling as quickly as possible ready for the rams,” continues Mr Hall. “Then 2-3 weeks into the tupping period feed concetrates can be reduced to switch off insulin production.”

Early and mid pregnancy – maintaining BCS

The main goal throughout early and mid pregnancy is the maintenance of BCS. “Now isn’t the time for ewes to be losing or gaining weight,” explains Mr Hall, “and ideally the BCS of 2.5-3.0 that has been achieved pre-tupping can be maintained throughout pregnancy. Care must be taken so that animals do not become over conditioned, which can lead to significantly reduced dry matter intakes at lactation. It is lamb development that occurs during this period rather than actual lamb growth so both energy and protein requirements for the ewe are relatively low at this time, not rising much above maintenance levels.”

Late pregnancy – preparing for lambing

In contrast, 75% of lamb growth occurs during the final 6-8 weeks of pregnancy greatly increasing nutritional demands on the ewe. Again, precision pays and scanning is a vital decision making aid when it comes to the partitioning of groups.

“Wherever possible split singles, twins and triplets into groups, to allow target feeding,” says Mr Hall, “providing less for singles, and more for triplets, to ensure that animals don’t get too fat or too thin and save on compound costs. Thin singles should be put in with twin lambers and thin twins should be put in with the triplets to allow a return to the correct BCS. Nutrition during this late pregnancy period is vitally important as it also governs colostrum and milk quality when the ewe does eventually lamb. Poor nutrition at this stage results in not enough milk being available for lambs and very poor early growth rates.”

The closer to lambing, the more demands on the ewe increase and, in the last two weeks, a final increase in the level of nutrition can be required.

Get the ration right

Mr Hall recommends that farms should always get silage or hay analysed and match the compound and feed rate to the forage, that way you are providing a balanced ration that meets the flocks nutritional needs in the most precise and cost-effective way.

“When considering which concentrate or how much to feed sheep, there is no such thing as the ‘best cake’ only the ‘right cake’,” advises Mr Hall. “The overall diet must be considered. There is little point in feeding the most expensive, highest energy density cake on the market at the same rate every year; if you are already providing your sheep with an 11ME, 15% CP grass silage. Not only is this expensive, but the sheep will become too fat.”

“Therefore it is crucial to know the nutritional value of what you are feeding, depending on silage quality it may even prove more cost effective to feed a high quality compound but at a lower rate.”

Given that cereal prices at an all-time low, the other option for 2014 is to utilise home grown or even bought in cereals. They can provide a very cost effective method of feeding ewes however when feeding high starch cereals it is vital to consider two key points; which protein source to mix with and how to avoid acidosis.

“Soya or protected soya is the gold standard for breeding ewes, mixing soya and cereals will give you an excellent mix that can be fed alongside silage,” explains Mark. “High Digestible Undegradable Protein (DUP) levels will support excellent milk production ensuring lambs get the best start possible. Failing this a high soya protein pellet can give you a more cost effective option if you are unable to take bulk loads of Soya in a significant tonnage.”

“Acidosis is an ever present threat when feeding cereals, compound feeds rarely reach 40% starch so can be quite safe in sensible quantities, cereal rations can be as high as 60% starch, bringing about rapid acidosis. If ewes are housed then plenty of fresh fibre should be provided and feeds should be split into small quantities that can be fed little and often. If lambing outside ensure there is enough trough space for all the ewes to feed at the same time and where possible try to split feeds into small amounts at regular intervals.”

Attention to detail and knowing exactly what individual elements of the diets are made up of at every stage is the key to tailoring diets to the flocks’ specific nutritional needs ensuring better returns at this crucial time of year.

Countrywide Farmers appoints new board director

Andrew Webb, Chief Commercial Officer, Countrywide Farmers plc

Countrywide Farmers plc has announced the appointment of Andrew Webb as Chief Commercial Officer to the Board with effect from 5th January 2015.

Reporting to Chief Executive Officer, John Hardman, Andrew Webb will be responsible for leading the exciting new strategy which will see Countrywide become the leading multichannel retailer to the rural community. Andrew brings extensive experience of the development and delivery of successful multi-channel experiences to customers in a wide variety of leading businesses including Equifax, Game Digital, White Stuff, East, and Carphone Warehouse.

Commenting on his appointment, John Hardman said “This is a really important appointment for the business and demonstrates our ambition to provide our customers with the best multichannel shopping experience. We recognise customer buying patterns are evolving and we want to stay at the forefront of these changing trends. Having previously operated as Chief Operating Officer at White Stuff and Chief Executive Officer of East, Andrew has over 20 years’ experience of growing retail and e-commerce brands, where he adopted a highly customer centric approach whilst focusing on loyalty and profit. Andrew's appointment coincides with the roll out of Project Fusion, a new technology platform which will integrate our existing network of 53 stores, in-field sales team, online, and catalogue shopping; it will provide our customers with the widest range of shopping options as well as driving efficiencies across the business.”

Speaking about his appointment Andrew Webb recognises the opportunity in the rural sector, “no one is dominating this space and Countrywide represents a real opportunity to occupy a market leading position in a growing sector. Drawing on the insight from the largest rural loyalty card programme it feels as if the business is on the verge of delivering a step change in service levels to the rural customer. I am excited to be coming to Countrywide to build on all the good work so far and to lead this multichannel implementation.”

New Welsh nutritionist for Countrywide team

Carwyn James, Farmers Apprentice finalist 2014, has been appointed as Ruminant Nutritionist in West Wales at Countrywide Farmers plc, the UK’s leading supplier of products, advice and services to the rural community.

Currently a finalist in the Farmers Apprentice programme being run by Farmers Weekly, Carwyn will be responsible for Ruminant Nutrition in West Wales, where his local knowledge and Welsh language skills will add value to Countrywide’s customers. He is undergoing the award winning Countrywide training programme which includes an in depth course at Harper Adams on dairy nutrition to hone his existing knowledge.

Having been part of the Fresh Start Dairy Academy and the Tesco Future Farmers Foundation, Carwyn has been pro-active in furthering his knowledge and skills. A fourth generation farmer, he farms in partnership with his mother and brother. The 300 acre farm, based in Pembrokeshire has300 breeding ewes and 70 Hereford sucklers, however Carwyn is also looking at diversification options to develop the farm further.

Mr James, said: “I am really excited to take on this role, like many in agriculture I know that there is a bright future and plenty of opportunities to succeed. I’ve always made sure to stay focussed, learn from those more experienced and worked hard. I’m looking forward to developing my knowledge with Countrywide.”

Speaking of Carwyn’s appointment, Alistair Folly, Countrywide’s Agricultural Director, commented: "Carwyn has the essential package that we look for in a new team member, he is knowledgeable, enthusiastic and has the support of his community; we are delighted to have him as part of the growing Countrywide team.”

Mr. Folly continues, “At Countrywide the recruitment process is important in attracting the right people. We are currently visiting with all the leading universities to showcase the graduate opportunities we have. However we would like to highlight that while a degree is desirable, we can see that talented young people such as Carwyn who have shown drive and determination and have practical experience in the industry can be just as knowledgeable.”

Countrywide Pet Event, September 2014

Coverage of the Countrywide Pet Event, September 2014

Safety is Critical for Homeowners as They Prepare to Warm Up For Winter

Householders and businesses that use LPG for heating are being urged to ensure all gas appliances have been checked and serviced as winter approaches, to avoid the potential for deadly gas leaks, fires and carbon monoxide poisoning.

UKLPG, the trade association for the liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) industry has issued the stern warning as part of Gas Safety Week (15-22 September), an event co-ordinated every year by the Gas Safe Register.

Rob Shuttleworth, chief executive of UKLPG, explains: “Every year thousands of people across the UK are diagnosed with carbon monoxide poisoning. It is a highly poisonous gas which can kill quickly with no warning and just one of the many reasons that gas appliances need to be serviced and checked every year by a Gas Safe Registered installer.

“It is vitally important to invest in proper boiler and heater maintenance, including portable LPG heaters that may have been stored in a garage or shed over the summer. Calling in a Gas Safe registered fitter to service and safety check your appliances is a small price to pay for the safety of your loved ones.

“Illegal gas fitters can put lives at risk, so always check the engineer’s Gas Safe Register ID card, and if you rent your property make sure you see a copy of the landlord’s gas safety record confirming that a gas safety check has been carried out within the past 12 months.”

Warning signs that a gas appliance isn’t working properly include lazy yellow or orange flames instead of crisp blue ones, black marks on or around the appliance and too much condensation in the room.

Audible carbon monoxide alarms should be fitted at homes that use gas appliances. Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning include headaches, dizziness, breathlessness, nausea, collapse and loss of consciousness.

For gas safety advice or to find and check an engineer visit the Gas Safe Register website at

‘Coals to Newcastle’ coup for Countrywide Grain

4,400mt of milling wheat exported to France marks a ‘coals to Newcastle’ coup for Countrywide Grain.

“It is very rare for France to import milling wheat,” says Grain Manager for Countrywide Farmers, Edd Britton, “and has only happened once in the last 13 years. This year a wet early summer in France has hit quality meaning more feed wheat and a lot less milling wheat, this leaves France struggling to meet existing commitments. We were able to upgrade feed wheat contracts and pay big premiums at a time of year when wheat is hard to move and premiums are under pressure.”

The milling wheat cargo which left Poole on 19th August follows Countrywide Grain’s first shipment in July - a major milestone for the Amesbury based team which was established in 2013 from Heart of England Grain and the SM Hackett and Son businesses, both already owned by Countrywide Farmers.

The Amesbury office has now exported 11,600mt at harvest out of Poole comprising 3,000mt of feed barley to Ireland, 4400mt of milling wheat to France, 2200mt of OSR to Germany and 2000mt of OSR to Belgium.

“This is an exciting development following so quickly on the back of our first export,” says Grain Manager for Countrywide Farmers, Edd Britton. “Securing such innovative opportunities, good, honest trading, and building strong relationships are all essential as we continue to grow and expand our business.”

Pick your moments….. Buying Opportunities if you’re looking!

By Colin Shepherd, Northern Commodities Manager, Countrywide Farmers

Since our last update almost all markets have seen significant falls in price. We have seen wheat drop by around £35/t and Soya drop by anywhere between £17/t to £50/t depending on the position. On the back of this, all other products have followed, be it rapemeal, distillers, maize, soya hulls or any raw material that a bovine can utilise!

Why has the market fallen so much?

The graph below shows current predicted increases in soya production over the past three years.

Given another very good year for crops for both Grains and Oilseeds, this year will see ending stocks increase significantly helping ease prices. The crux of it, and the question we get on a daily basis, “are we at the bottom of the market”, is difficult to answer with great confidence with a yes – we haven’t seen this weight of supply for a while and we are working through the potential scenarios here on in. But we believe the following advice stands;