Press Releases

Press releases from Countrywide:

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
31st January 2014 New Countrywide Farmers Store for Glastonbury
5th December 2013 Countrywide Farmers acquires Abergavenny Farm Supplies
26th November 2013 ‘Store of the Year’ in Melton Mowbray
26th November 2013  • Maize or wholecrop? Time to decide
26th November 2013  Balanced proteins key to silage potential 
19th November 2013 Keep crude protein in check for better returns
19th November 2013 Congratulations to our worthy award winners
19th November 2013 Countrywide Farmers - the growing alternative  
7th November 2013 New direct genetics ordering service offers farmers greater choice
7th November 2013 Feed syrups offer sweet opportunities
4th November 2013 Sale of Countrywide’s wet fuels business to Ford Fuels Ltd
4th November 2013 • New Loyalty Card Launched for Rural Community
1st November 2013

• Strategic forward buying advised as spot protein prices remain firm

1st November 2013 Ewe nutrition: ‘precision pays’ says nutritionist

Managing acidosis at grass.

PDF IconManaging acidosis at grass

Countrywide customer in Wales one of the UK’s top yielding herds – article in Cow Management magazine.

PDF IconImproving cow facilities and herd management ‘turned on’ genetic potential

Mild autumn impacts first half results for Countrywide Farmers

Nigel Hall

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”.

Board Changes

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.

Positive Outlook

“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

Dogs for Disabled

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.

Nigel Hall

Chairman

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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.

Paddock Maintenance

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.

Harrowing

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.

Fertilisers

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.

Top Tips:

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New Countrywide Farmers Store for Glastonbury

New Store opens in 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.

Offers

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.

John Hardman

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.”

Murray Phillips“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.”

Mark HallGrowing costs of approximately £375/ha* for maize, compared to £432/ha* for wheat, can be used to provide comparative energy costs:

“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

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?

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.”

Adding urea

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.”

Key points

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Keep crude protein in check for better returns

PDF Icon Keep crude protein in check for better returns

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Congratulations to our worthy award winners

PDF Icon 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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New direct genetics ordering service offers farmers greater choice

Genetics experts, Sterling Bulls Online, with partner Countrywide Farmers have announced the opening of a specialist office that allows customers to order leading dairy and beef genetics direct over the phone or online.

Sterling Bulls Online provides the dairy industry access to quality, proven dairy and beef bulls as well as top end genomic bulls from around the world at reasonable prices.

“We have recruited a new team of advisory sales staff that have between 10 and 15 years’ experience working with dairy and beef genetics and the broader industry,” says founder of Sterling Bulls Online and Gloucestershire beef farmer, Paul Westaway. “New this autumn is Genomic Bull Ste Odile Satisfaction, at No 2 in Canada and No 7 in the USA he is probably the most interesting bull to be brought to the UK market this year.”

“The new direct ordering service allows us to provide advice to a farmer as an individual and make recommendations to support their requirements and long term farm objectives,” explains Joanna Cox, new Sales Manager at Sterling Bulls Online.

The team will be telephone based but will work closely with the existing Countrywide field sales team to improve the accessibility to the three key areas that drive dairy profitability; genetics, nutrition and health.

“We provide advice and products to dairy and beef farmers across the country helping farmers to get the most out of their livestock.” says Countrywide Agriculture Director Alistair Folly. “The range of milk and beef genetics available from the efficient ordering system at Sterling Bulls Online alongside the expertise provided by Joanna and her team help our dairy farmers to maximise profits from milk and calves and our beef customers to gain a significantly greater profit per animal.”
For more information or to discuss how the team can help you contact the Stirling Bulls Online office 01531 890810 or visit www.sterlingbullsonline.co.uk

 
   

Tramilda-N Escalada daughter
Stonybrook Escalade Avail

            

 Ste Odile Satisfaction

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Feed syrups offer sweet opportunities

Following the purchase of the Ensus bio-ethanol plant by Crop Energie, and with the Teeside factory now gearing up for full production, wheat distillery syrups, which offer the potential to significantly reduce feed costs are set to become increasingly available. 

These highly nutritious syrups, co-products from both the bioethanol and Scottish distilling industries, as with some other liquid feeds, offer a cost-effective source of both energy and protein suitable for all ruminants. Many dairy and beef farmers have already invested in the tanks required to take advantage of the high dry matter intakes in diets and feed cost savings.

David Levick, Managing Consultant at Kite Consulting, together with dairy farmer Adam Sills and Colin Shepherd, Commodity Manager of Countrywide Farmers believe farmers should consider taking advantage of the upcoming opportunities.

Energy and protein

“In straight nutrition terms,” says Mr Levick, “wheat distillery syrups are fantastic energy and protein sources.  Enpro from Ensus, for example, has around 28% DM and just over 34% protein (%/kg DM). What’s more, unlike foods containing a lot of oil - like biscuit meal - or where proteins are protected, these nutrients are very readily available to the rumen bacteria.  So, we know exactly what we are getting, and, as the rumen is the same whether it is beef, dairy or sheep - they provide a good fundamental basis for any ruminant diet.

Enpro Syrup

Consistent

“Another benefit,” continues Mr Levick, “is that these syrups go through a constant distillery process, so the end product is very consistent and cows respond to it, both in terms of intake and performance. They also have the advantage, as a wet feed, of holding the rest of the diet together, including the minerals and other ‘powder’ ingredients, so that it is presented to cows in a more consistent manner.”


Adding these liquids and syrups to animal feed diets can improve dry matter intakes, milk quality and offer real cost benefits when used to replace higher priced ingredients.  The following chart shows the relative value for money at today’s prices of various feeds when compared to the standard feed components of rapeseed meal and rolled wheat.  “This does show just how well wheat syrup compares at present,” says Mr Levick, “of all the ingredients shown it is actually the best value. The expense of some, like Hi-Pro soya for example, will mean that its use in providing higher levels of digestible undegradable protein (DUP) will be kept to an absolute minimum.”

Home grown

“These syrups can be used to replace ingredients such as wheat, imported distillers or soya bean meal,” agrees Colin Shepherd, Commodities Manager of Countrywide, “and this shows that whilst we have had some of the biggest soya harvests in the world, and prices should be coming down, shipping problems in North and South America have kept prices artificially high. A big advantage of these syrups is that they are home grown and should be consistently available at a reasonable price without the hassle of currencies and transport.”
Ensus, in the north of England, which cost some £250m to construct in 2010, has a capacity for more than 1.0m tonnes of wheat and so is likely to boost both UK wheat demand and animal feed production.  The Vivergo bioethanol plant, of similar size to Ensus, is also stepping up production and at full capacity is expected to use 1.1m tonnes of feed wheat a year to produce 420m litres of bioethanol and 500,000 tonnes of animal feed co-products.
“Farming is all about taking advantage of opportunities such as these,” agrees Mr Levick, who already has farmer customers using syrups, “and I would advise any farmer to consider them carefully.  Firstly you will need to make sure that you have the livestock to take advantage of a full load, and the equipment to handle it - and that is the kind of tank most farmers already have to store liquid feeds such as molasses.”

With its high gluten content, Mr Levick advises customers to use syrups within 21-23 days to prevent them thickening and becoming slow to leave the tank.   “So you need enough cows, and a high enough feed rate, to use it up within around three weeks.  I am happy to consider feeding cattle at around 8 – 10 kilos of wheat distillers syrup a day”

Syrups on farm

For Adam Sills of Ashtree Farm, Rodsley near Ashbourne feeding wheat distillers syrup to his dairy herd has worked well.

“We have 240 milking cows and feed 8 kilos of wheat distillers syrup a day,” says Mr Sills. “The Enpro replaces part of the rape, soya and bread so replaces protein and energy in the diet and has been good value for money, making a significant saving to our ration. We get on with it well, the cows like it, and easily use a load within three weeks. Our silage was on the wetter side last year, but once we got onto this year’s silage, which is drier, it is even better.

Harry Todhunter my Countrywide Farmers rep always rings me up in good time to order and arrange deliveries and now, with two plants in operation, continuity should be better than it has been for the past year or two. At the moment we feed the milking group but I’m also considering using it for the dry cows.”
“The most economical way to buy liquid and syrups is always in bulk as 29 tonne artic loads,” confirms Mr Shepherd, “and with a range of specifications and consistencies these feeds are very versatile.”

Using syrups: a guide

“Crop Energie has made a huge commitment in the Ensus plant,” says Mr Shepherd, “and if you consider that we are anticipating a wheat harvest of around 12m tonnes this year, 56% of which has been planted with feed varieties suited for ethanol production, we have every reason to expect both continuity of supply and good prices, providing our customers with an excellent opportunity to take advantage of a really nutritious and cost-effective feed stuff.”

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Sale of Countrywide’s wet fuels business to Ford Fuels Ltd

Countrywide Farmers plc (“Countrywide”) has today sold its wet fuel distribution business to Ford Fuels Ltd (“Ford Fuels”), a growing specialist fuel distribution business. The new business will trade as Countrywide Oils and be located at Defford Mill, Earls Croome, Worcestershire.

Countrywide’s existing LPG business in unaffected by this sale.

John Hardman CEO of Countrywide said, “We are pleased to have sold our wet fuels business to a family run company committed to maintaining the best possible service for rurally-based fuel customers.”

Ford Fuels Company Director John Ford said, “We are delighted to have taken this significant step forward in the development of Ford Fuels. The Countrywide wet fuel business has a well-established and strong brand and we are looking forward to continuing the supply of fuel to Countywide’s existing customers as well as other new customers.

Countrywide and Ford Fuels would like to take this opportunity to assure you that it is “business as usual” and more as far as fuel ordering and deliveries are concerned. From today Countrywide Oils will be providing an enhanced delivery service, as well as online ordering and payment (for domestic customers), electronic invoicing and a choice of telephone numbers to suit all callers.

Countrywide Oils:
Please call our Customer Services Team on 0800 626 348

For further information about Ford Fuels, please visit: www.fordfueloils.co.uk
For further information about Countrywide Oils, please visit: www.countrywideoils.co.uk

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New Loyalty Card Launched for Rural Community

Countrywide Farmers and NFU Countryside have teamed up to offer their members a major new  reward card scheme, Countryclub PLUS, designed for all who live and love the country life.

“We are delighted to launch this scheme from two of the leading organisations within the rural community,” says Countrywide Chief Executive John Hardman, “ It’s the culmination of many months of work together and we believe offers our customers the biggest and best country shopping and rural lifestyle rewards and benefits, in return for their loyalty to us”. 

Countryclub PLUS combines all the unique benefits of NFU Countryside membership plus double the usual rewards from shopping with Countrywide, the UK’s leading supplier of products, services and advice to the rural community, now with over 53 Country Stores.

NFU Countryside is the leading membership organisation for people who are passionate about rural life, gardening, horses, dogs, British food and farming.  “As such there is a perfect fit with all that we do at Countrywide” says Mr Hardman. “Working together, we believe the benefits and value this represents to our customers is outstanding and without comparison in the rural sector.”

 Save 4% on all purchases

Benefits include 4 points for every £1 spent at Countrywide – a 4% saving to be used against further purchases - and regular exclusive offers including double points which deliver an exceptional 8% saving.

Members will receive introductory offers on joining (for an annual fee of £36.50 in the first year and £41.00 thereafter), advance notice of in-store events and can even save on energy purchases by registering their new card with the Countrywide energy team.

With its heart in the countryside, and as the UK’s largest equine supplier, Countrywide stocks a vast range from pet, garden and home products to farming and equine supplies including feed, bedding and saddlery plus a huge range of accessories and animal health items, all supported by the advice of highly experienced AMTRA qualified specialists. 

Reward points can be collected both in-store and on-line and what better way to collect, and spend points than at this year’s Your Horse Live event at Stoneleigh. Sponsored by Countrywide, their stand will feature many of the top manufacturers from Barbour, Musto and Joules to Ariat boots and Gatehouse riding hats not forgetting Countrywide’s own brand Kadence range including Stikki Bum Jodhpurs!

Members will also receive Countrywide’s free newsletters – ‘Pet Talk’ and ‘Stable Talk’ - and have the award winning NFU Countryside magazine delivered monthly.

Countryclub PLUS brings all the benefits of NFU Countryside membership including free initial personal legal advice, £10,000 free accidental death cover, 20% off NFU employment services and a fantastic range of exclusive discounts and offers.

To find out more, and join Countryclub PLUS, visit the Countrywide website at www.countrywidefarmers.co.uk or any Countrywide store.

Full Countryclub PLUS terms and conditions are available in store or online at www.countrywidefarmers.co.uk.

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Strategic forward buying advised as spot protein prices remain firm

By Colin Shepherd, Commodity Manager, Countrywide Farmers

An on-going limited supply of shipments out of South America has kept Hipro Soya prices relatively firm over the last few months. Therefore, farmers who are looking to lower their reliance on Hipro Soya have the following options:

However, the key to underpinning your protein costs, regardless of what you use, is looking at the forward market and covering product when a buying opportunity presents itself. 

The proof is in historical analysis; over the last 10 years it has become increasingly important to remove the risk of exposure to spot markets, particularly when covering the major protein raw materials, such as Hipro Soya, Rapemeal and Distillers (see graph)

There are three main points to consider:

  1. For both the May and October periods of 2012 and 2013, significant money could have been saved through buying Hipro Soya forward. Timing is the key, but for May/October 2012 forward Soya was regularly available at less than £300/t from June 2011 to March 2012. During the spot months of the summer of 2012, the price rarely dropped below £350/t and for large periods was £400/t plus.  A similar pattern can be seen for the summer of 2013, although not quite as extreme, the difference between buying forward and being exposed to spot prices was easily £50-£75/t.
  2. Over recent years one of the best periods to buy forward has been in December and January.  At this point the pressure from the North American harvest is in full swing, growers are looking for cash and therefore to sell, the South American plantings are known and shippers are looking to cover large volumes on the forward market to put in place freight plans.  These factors contribute to good forward prices most years; we believe this will be the same again for this year.
  3. The correlation between Rapemeal and Hipro Soya is clear.  However, there are occasions when one product offers far greater value;  we have already had 2 or 3 opportunities to cover Rapemeal at much better value than average this year.  Keep close to your supplier to pick up on these opportunities.

Why Should Soya Drop in December/January?

In the US, harvest pressure is starting to finally take its toll. The harvest is increasing at a rapid rate, and although data from the USDA has been hard to come by of late, mainly due to the US Government being in crisis. Our current belief is that the yield could be above 42 bushels/acre, which would be an increase on the last estimations and follows limited rainfall in August. 

In South America, beneficial rains were expected to arrive in Argentina towards the latter part of October, and although soil moisture levels are low, plantings are currently only just behind average. In Brazil, planting is progressing well and is ahead of average - planting in Parana is actually closer to 50%, recent weather has been very favourable and some plants are already reported to be 6 inches tall. Crop forecasters are therefore raising their estimates for next years crop to 86mmt, around 5.4mmt above last year’s excellent crop.

Energy crops

The market here has been steady of late.  The excellent crops seen in much of North America, Europe, Russia and the Ukraine have led to a drop in Wheat of around £70/t from last winter’s high.  Much winter business has been booked and the suggested actions are as follows;
 

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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.

“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 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 compounds 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. “You should always bear in mind, when considering which compound to feed sheep, there’s no such thing as the ‘best cake’ only the ‘right cake’”, advises Mr Hall. “There is no point in feeding the most expensive, highest energy, density cake on the market when you are providing your sheep with an 11ME, 15% CP grass silage. Your sheep will get too fat and it will cost you a lot of money. Instead, always get your silage or hay analysed and match your compound to the forage, that way you are providing a balanced ration that meets their nutritional needs in the most precise and cost-effective way.”

Picture shows Mark Hall, Commercial Nutritionist, Countrywide Farmers

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