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Forage & Nutrition
Guide 2018
Expanding the family business
A lot has changed on the Halpin farm in Co. Limerick over the last 20 years.
As well as significantly expanding their dairy enterprise, they have ventured
into the contracting world also
Pat Halpin, and his wife Carmel, farm in the Golden Vale
at Lackelly near Knocklong in Co. Limerick. They have a
spring calving herd of 350 Holstein Friesian cows and supply
Dairygold Co-op. Cows are milked in a 32-unit herringbone
parlour. When he started in milk production 20 years ago,
Pat had 36 cows. Pat makes 150 acres of pit silage and
2,500 bales each year to feed his own livestock.
Silage quality is very important to the Halpins, so it is
not surprising that Pat has his own forage machinery, or
that in 2009, he expanded the family business into silage
contracting for local dairy and livestock farmers. Pat now
employs seven full-time workers and has an impressive
range of machinery. He provides a full service that includes
mowing, tedding, baling, harvesting, moving silage and
stacking bales.
The Halpin's machinery includes a self-propelled Claas
harvester, eight Claas tractors plus a New Holland and a
Massey Ferguson. The forage machinery includes four Claas
mowers (two front and rear combinations), a Lely tedder,
two McHale Fusion 3 balewrappers (purchased last year), a
Keltec 10-pack bale handler and two silage trailers.
Pat believes in giving a good service and expects his
customers to pay promptly, which they do. He is very
thankful to local farmers who have supported him and are
helping him to develop a successful contracting business.
Last year, he made 17,000 bales of silage and all but 700
bales were wrapped with Baletite, even though it costs an
extra euro per bale over netwrap.
Baletite is an innovative five-layer, pre-orientated
film that replaces traditional netwrap in round silage
bales. Specifically created for the next generation of
baling machines that can apply film instead of net, such
as the McHale Fusion 3 Plus, Baletite has been designed to
enhance the ensiling process and protect the bale contents.
Being a film, Baletite provides an additional air barrier
while helping to retain a better bale shape by exerting a
tighter grip around the bale circumference. Plus, it reduces
wastage of valuable silage wrap because no baled fodder
can become enmeshed in it.
Its production from the same base material as Silotite
balewrap means users don't have to separate the Baletite
from balewrap after use. Instead, both Baletite and the
accompanying balewrap can be recycled together, thereby
saving valuable time and labour costs.
As a farmer himself, Pat knows how important silage quality
is for milk production and live weight gain. Pat says Baletite
is more user-friendly than other similar products, bales hold
their shape better, are easier to move and far less likely to
rip during handling.
Silage quality is definitely better, says Pat, especially for
higher dry matter (DM) grass.
"Silage is sweeter and there is no mould. Customers
appreciate this and had no problem switching to this new
Film & Film (F&F) system."
Excellent trial results have been obtained in Britain by
Dr Dave Davies of Silage Solutions Ltd, who acts as an
independent consultant to the Silage Advisory Centres.
Dr Davies is a well-known forage expert and a former
senior research scientist at the Institute of Grassland &
Environmental Research (IGER) at Aberystwyth in Wales.
Indeed, an independent trial he conducted on a commercial
farm in England demonstrated that F&F-wrapped bales had:
7.5 per cent less DM losses compared to netwrap bales
due to an enhanced fermentation process;
80 per cent less DM losses compared to netwrap bales
due to mould formation on the bale; and
52 per cent reduction in DM losses compared to netwrap
The reduced losses that resulted through the use of the F&F
wrapping system means that the farmer had more forage
to feed to his herd. Balewrapping, like other technologies, is
evolving. As netwrap was a step-change in wrapping practices
30 years ago, binding films like Baletite are paving the way
to a new era of added value and cost benefits. A short video
featuring the F&F wrapping system is available to view online
Over the last seven years, the use of a wide polythene film
to bind bales before wrapping, has grown significantly. This
concept has really taken off over the last two years.
* RPC bpi Agriculture Ireland manufactures Baletite.
Author: Sean O'Connor
General manager, RPC bpi Agriculture Ireland