Health & Safety And Employment Solutions In Agriculture & Farming

Do you have working farm or run a farming business where you employ people on your farm? If so then it may interest you to know about Hazel Preece Consultancy, a consultancy business for Health & Safety and Employment matters specialising in the Farming and Agricultural sector.

Hazel has over 10 years experience dealing first hand with employment matters, health and safety issues and conducting tailored training solutions.

Visit the Hazel Preece Consultancy website for more information.

Hazel also sends out a quarterly newsletter with up to date employment and health & safety matters discussed and highlighted, so if you would like to subscribe to this newsletter, you can contact Hazel by clicking on the link.

For those of you who have pig farms and smallholdings and read Pig World magazine then Hazel is currently running a Pig World Health & Safety/Employment Quiz and to read the quiz rules click on the link.


Pig World Health & Safety/Employment Quiz 2011

Do you read Pig World magazine or have a farm or pig farm in the UK? If so then the  Pig World Health & Safety/Employment Quiz could be just the competition for you!

Click on this link  to read the quiz rules.

The aims of the competition are to raise awareness of health and safety and employment issues, which I think is very important and should be at the fore front of farmers minds!

The Pig World Health & Safety/Employment Quiz 2011 is written by Hazel Preece and kindly sponsored by Wold Gold Brewery, Yorkshire Wolds Cookery School/JSR and BioLink.

The prizes include:

The Yorkshire Prize – Wold Gold Light Beer (24 bottles) courtesy of Wold Top Brewery & 1 x £50 Yorkshire Wolds Cookery School Gift Experience Voucher courtesy of the Yorkshire Wolds Cookery School/JSR.

The On-Farm Improvement Prize – Half a days support on the employment/health & safety/training topic of you/your employers choice & 25ltrs of “Blastoff” an ideal multipurpose cleaner with added wetting agent for lifting stubborn muck from important areas such as farrowing and weaning accommodations courtesy of BioLink.

The Gift Experience Prize – 2 x £50 Yorkshire Wolds Cookery School Gift Experience Vouchers courtesy of the Yorkshire Wolds Cookery School/JSR & £30 of High Street Shopping Vouchers, of your choice.

Click on this link to go to the Pig World Health & Safety/Employment Quiz 2011. The closing date for the quiz is Friday 28th January 2011 at 5pm. Good luck with your entry!


Defra Encourages Farmers To Report Bovine Abortions & Premature Calving

I have just been reading in Defra’s  Farming Link magazine that Great Britain has been officially free of brucellosis since 1985.

Brucellosis of cattle, also known as contagious abortion and Bangs disease, is caused by an infection with the bacterium Brucella abortus. This bacterium not only affects cattle, but also sheep, goats and pigs. Brucellosis infection of cattle causes abortion, premature calving of recently infected animals, most often between the fifth and eight month of pregancy and infertility.

Defra are encouraging farmers to monitor their cattle and to report any bovine abortions or premature calving that takes place less than 271 days after service to their vet.


Winter Livestock Feed in 19th Century

I have been sent an email from David who is writing a short story set in the early 19th century on a small farm in Devon. It is a mixed farm and David is trying to establish what winter food would have been used/available in those times for a variety of livestock.

After abit of research I have found out that:-

  • Turnips were fed to cattle and sheep.
  • Hay was given to cattle and sheep.
  • Horses ate oats.
  • Oats strawwas given to suckler cows.
  • Chaff from wheat was fed to cattle.
  • Clover was a fodder crop.
  • Pigs were fed on scraps, peelings and pan scrapings as well as whey.
  • I asked about this on my farmingfriends on twitter page http://twitter.com/farmingfriends and found out that,

    Winter feeds include:

  • mangolds /manglewurzels ,
  • hay,
  • grains, mainly barley, and oats for horses
  • swedes,
  • turnips
  • non prickly tops of the ancient holly trees used for animal feed when snow bound.
  • pea haulm,
  • beech nuts &
  • oak leaves.

If you know anything about the Winter livestock feed in the 19th Century and know about Victorian farming, then please leave a comment and let us know what other food was fed to farm animals in the 19th century.

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Farm Crafts

We have come across a copy of “The Things We Do – A Guide To Club Programmes and Young Farmers’ Activities” dated 1961 which I have been reading with interest.

The Young Farmers The Thing We Do Book

The Young Farmers The Thing We Do Book

The book is a helpful guide on how to run a programme of events for a Young Farmers club.

It says that, “It should be the aim of every Young Farmer to gain skills in the crafts of the farm…”

I was interested to read the examples of crafts associated with the farm that it gave in the book:

  • Basket making.
  • Brickwork.
  • Carpentry.
  • Concrete work.
  • Digging.
  • Ditching and draining.
  • Dry stone walling.
  • Farriery.
  • Fencing and gate hanging.
  • Fruit tree propagation and pruning.
  • Garden cultivations.
  • Gate making and hanging.
  • Hedging.
  • Hurdle making.
  • Machinery care.
  • Metalwork.
  • Milking.
  • Ploughing.
  • Pruning.
  • Root hoeing.
  • Rope making, knots, splices, halters and nets.
  • Scything.
  • Sheep-dog handling.
  • Sheep shearing.
  • Sowing seeds and manures by hand.
  • Stacking.
  • Stockmanship.
  • Stooking.
  • Thatching.
  • Tractor driving.
  • Welding.

My husband can do pretty much most of these farm crafts. I think I have alot to learn! Which of these farm crafts can you do?


How Old Is Too Old To Farm? Oxford Farming Conference 5th January 2010

The Farmer’s Weekly has brought to my attention the debate about how old is too old to farm? A sensitive and controversial issue that will be at the centre of the Oxford Farming Conference on the 5th January 2010.

I live on a farm with my husband who is the third generation of farmer to farm here. He farms along with his brother and father who is now 66. I noticed in the Farmer’s Weekly article was asking if farmers should stop farming at 60?

I know what my father-in-law would say. It would definately be a resounding no. Although the farm work that my father-in-law does now is more limited and I have noticed that he does get tired alot more these days, he loves working with the cattle and he feeds cattle at both farms (where he lives and on our farm) twice a day which is still quite physical and some younger people would struggle to do.

I believe that the farm work my father-in-law does helps to keep him fit and healthy and as long as it is contributing to his good health and he is enjoying the work and doing a good job I personally don’t see why there has to be an age limit on how old a farmer can keep farming. I do think that if more than one generation are working together then the older generation do need to consider the long term needs of the younger members as the long term view of an older farmer may not be the same as a younger farmer.  In our case my father-in-law works well with his sons and all parties seem to be pursuing farming roles that suit them personally as well as the farm as a whole.

Let me know what you views about how old is too old to farm.


A Letter From The Troodos Mountains In Cyprus

It is always a delight and a thrill to receive an email and letter from a farmingfriend. I was delighted to receive a letter from my farmingfriend David who lives in Cyprus.

Hi Sara

It is quite a while since I last emailed you and the days continue to fly by. It must be age!!

I was so sorrry to hear your news about Hatty the Hen. I know that we must all be somewhat detached from our farming livestock but we all form attachments to our animals and when we lose them unexpectedly we all feel a sense of loss. My lovely little cat Tensing died recently due I suspect to poisoning. The Cypriots still put out Lanate and although it is now banned here they obviously have old stocks to dispose of. Tensing came in under the weather one Sunday night and I thought that I would take him to the vet next day if he was no better. Sadly he was dead next day so I was too late. He was a lovely little cat greedy and self assertive but my two domestic cats rather liked him and I am sorry he has gone.

Well my weather forecasting for the Troodos and Tsada for that matter was totally wrong. We seem to have had various coptic storms over the last few weeks and although the sun has shone on some days there has been an awful lot of rain with hail thunder and cloudbursts. Of course we stoic Ex pats put on a stiff upper lip but I think we will all be glad to get some warmer weather. It is not really cold and temperatures do hover around 18 – 20 degrees but most of us are still in thick coats and woollens. Last year by this time central heating systems had been turned off and we were thinking about getting the shorts and flip flops out. It is still raining now with a good thunderstorm going on and both cats are on the bed with Aurora actually under the duvet. They are forecasting 23 degrees for saturday so lets hope they are right.

Last week I was up at the site and saw two young Moufflon higher up the mountain. They stayed for quite a while and when I told Aristos that night in the tavern he was delighted. I have been trying to find out where the name Moufflon originated. Aristos said that the true cypriot name is τράγος (pronounced traghos) which really only means “goat” so that is not much help. I shall speak to the forestry guys and hopefully get more information.

The almond trees are looking in good heart and I hope to be planting apple pear quince and cherry trees this week depending on what Marina (our local gardener and horticulturist)advises. Next week I will be putting in about 100 vines if Neofytos has remembered to get the stocks so things are moving along..

We are now into really warm weather (a week since I wrote the above) and although the streams in the mountain are still flowing it will not be too long before they dry up. I have cleared all weeds and rubbish off the site and am now ready to plant my fruit trees.

I saw my first snake of the year the other day on the road up to Troodos. It was a very small black Whip snake which are quite common here. They do bite but are not really venomous and tend to attack the Blunt Nosed Viper which is our most dangerous snake. As a note of caution anyone here should beat the ground and undergrowth with a stick to frighten them away. They are not really aggressive but will attack if threatened.

I am giving up any type of weather forecasting from now on. We had an almighty thunderstorm in Tsada last week and the lightening strike took out the telephone service and with it my modem in the computer. Thankfully the motherboard was not affected but I have now fitted surge protectors etc and will unplug the telephone line if I am away for any length of time.

I think I have located a source for some manure. Nitsa who runs a coffee house in Kidasi a small village knows where I can get some goat manure (called κοπρια) so that is likely to be my next job and then I must start on building my house or field shelter on the site so I can at least overnight there when it is a bit warmer. I am pleased to say that the maple trees are almost in leaf and the fig trees are not far behind. Cherry trees will need to be planted soon so I am in for a busy period. What a delight! I would love some of the Khaki ducks but I fear Cyprus in mid summer would be too hot and anyway there are other matters to deal with first.

Next week is our Easter so there will be the usual fun and games in the village. I will let you know whether the local lads actually manage to blow up the church this year!

Best wishes to all from sunny (at last) Cyprus.

David

I hope that you all enjoy reading David’s letter’s as much as I do. I always feel transported to Cyprus when I read David’s letters and it’s great to find out about the Cypriot weather, which is so important to farmers and smallholders and what is growing or being planted there on David’s smallholding in the Troodos Mountains.


UK Fertiliser Prices

Ammonium Nitrate fertiliser prices have stayed firm at £390/tonne through December of 2008.  It is not surprising to hear that fertiliser traders and manufacturers are advising farmers to continue buying to secure supplies – well of course it’s not surprising, they are trying to sell as much product as possible before the price crashes!

Ian Moseley (fertiliser manager for Wynnstay) was quoted in the Farmer’s Weekly as saying “Although the price of urea has collapsed, ammonium nitrate has stayed firm at £390/tonne for December.”  And saying of urea prices “It’s dependent on the Asian markey, which usually starts buying in January”.  He warned that if farmers delayed purchases, there was a danger that farmers could be left waiting for deliveries in spring, and talking of delivery said “If this suddenly gets pushed into February, then there won’t be enough stock or sufficient transport facilities to meet demand”.

Well it is the view of Farmingfriends that any fertiliser manufacturer or trader should take a beginners course in economics – simple supply and demand economics suggest that fertiliser manufacturers will have been producing product to maximum capacity to try and capitalise on the grain price 5 months ago.  Now that the global grain price has fallen to less than half what it was at its peak, then demand for fertiliser will also fall.  The fall in demand will be compounded by the fall in oil price, meaning that oilseeds will be in lower demand for biodiesel production (reducing fertiliser demand).

Farmers will look to reduce fertiliser application rates in the spring, possibly by as much as 25%.  We all know that ammonium nitrate doesn’t store well from one seaon to the next, so if manufacturers do not move product in spring 2009, they will be left with deteriorating stock.

So the prediction is that prices will fall for AN as they have done with urea due to falling demand, falling oil prices (reducing production costs and demand) and stockpiles of product at plants, docks and distribution warehouses.

The supply industry has been feeding the media, scaring farmers into making purchases at inflated prices since early summer, which can only be described as underhand – as they must have seen the price falls coming.  On this farm we predicted what was happening and have not bought any fertiliser yet for 2009.  It is clear that any farmers who haven’t yet purchased will be holding out for an avalanche of price falls.  We expect ammonium nitrate prices to fall below £200/t and comparing historic nitrogen and grain prices we could even see nitrogen sub £130.

The best price will come to those who wait!


Farm, Waste Plastic Solutions

It has been illegal to burn or bury waste plastic produced on farms since the introduction of the new Agricultural Waste Regulations in 2006.  The majority of the waste plastic from the farm is from silage bales, with smaller amounts from straw bales, fertiliser bags and empty agrochemical containers.  We have been sending the plastic to landfill using the local authority bin service, but obviously this is not the most desirable solution from an environmental stand-point.  We have found some information from UK Waste Solutions which is recommending compacting the waste plastic by baling it and then selling the plastic.

There are several companies in the UK that will take farm waste plastic, but they all charge for this service.  UK Waste Solutions suggest that by separating the plastic types and then compacting, it is possible to actually sell the plastic.  This is something we shall be looking into, as currently the farm is paying to have it taken away.  It may be necessary to collaborate with neighbouring farmers so that we have a sufficient volume of plastic for the recycling companies to collect.


Documentary On Single Male Farmers

I received this post on my forum and thought I would post about it.

Hello everyone. I am not part of the farming community but am making a documentary on single farmers and am looking for people who would like to contribute. If you or any of your friends are interested in finding out more please get in touch! Here is a bit more information on the show:

talkbackTHAMES are currently developing a new television show helping farmers find a long term partner.

We are looking for single, male farmers who are finding it hard to find romance. The farming lifestyle does not easily lend itself to love affairs and we hope to help by introducing farmers to a range of interesting, fantastic women, with some of whom they may find that elusive spark.

But this is so much more than a dating show. We want to tell the story of the farmers and really get to know them. We want to educate people about the farming world and show what contemporary life in the country is like. It’s rural romance without the romanticising.

The farmers chosen to feature in this 6 part documentary series will be filmed on their farms and in their daily lives, and also out on a series of dates organised by us, with a selection of women chosen by the men themselves.

If you, or if anyone you know, is interested in finding out more then please contact us for an informal initial chat with no obligation. Please call or email:

Rebecca Mills – 020 7861 8188 / rebecca.mills@talkbackthames.tv