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From Kelly Farm Consulting

The recent hot weather has really accelerated maize development. Some farms are already harvesting earlier planted maize with dry matters increasing significantly in the last two weeks. However, maize crops are variable across the South-West which highlights the challenges of the growing year with a very dry start to the season, followed by prolonged wet periods. A number of plants were heat-stressed at emergence, and this has affected entire crops in some cases.

There was a great deal of concern about forage stocks earlier this summer following prolonged dry spells in May and June. July and August brought some much-needed rain which encouraged grass growth and has improved forage stocks. However, quality is extremely variable. Making maize harvest extremely important this year.

When assessing maize crops, the quickest and easiest test to gauge the dry mature and maturity of the crop is the “milk-line” test. This test involves collecting a number of random cobs through the field and assessing kernels to see where the milk-line meets the starch. This test helps to give an indicator of crop maturity and dry matter content. The diagram below explains how this milk line moves down through the crop as it becomes more mature:

Image Credit:

When harvesting maize, target dry matters should be between 31-35%, to achieve this, the milk line needs to be 1/3rd or ½ way down the kernel. Sometimes it can be difficult to see the milk line, so take a kernel halfway down the cob and see if milk comes out when squeezed. If watery or milky then wait, if creamy then harvest within a week. With some plants dying, it might be worth cutting when the grains are only just creamy, or the entire crop could be too dry, and mould could become a problem on the face.

Similar to last year, we have seen a real variety of maize crops on farm. Lots of plants have double and even triple cobs in some cases which can be attributed to heat stress. Before harvesting, it will be important to compare a large number of cobs to obtain a representative sample. It is also possible that crops could reach the desired dry matter without reaching the desired height or density.

It is important to remember to base harvesting decisions on the dry matter and grain stage of the cob. Allowing the kernels to over-mature will result in a reduction in starch digestibility and increases the likelihood of unprocessed kernels to reach the clamp.

It is therefore advisable to check your maize crops early and thoroughly, as harvesting could well be earlier than expected!

Feed Markets

Following a turbulent few seasons in the feed markets, prices have largely stabilised and reduced in some cases. The Ukraine/Russia war is still very much a factor in markets; however, we are also seeing other factors at play.


The energies market is best described as two-tiered, with a lot of offsetting factors. The Russia/Ukraine war is still influencing markets, however, Ukrainian grain is still reaching the market and is being exported via rail/road with increased exports through the Danube ports. It is still unknown whether these export routes will be able to cope with demand.

Lower quality grain from the EU harvest will add a premium to milling markets. There are also reports of a tightening wheat supply in Australia and Canada. Nevertheless, VERY competitive Russian exports combined with a large maize supply forecast to reach the market, has kept a ceiling on energy markets.


Protein markets have been largely driven by weather and crop stock reports. Global rapeseed markets are well supplied coming into the winter. However, poor weather conditions in the US particularly have reduced the quality of soybean crops, resulting in stronger prices which have kept markets elevated.

The good news is that longer term, large soybean crops from South America are expected, which will likely reduce the headline prices. So, covering proteins for next spring/summer is not advisable at the moment.

For any help in assessing crops or discussing forage or feed requirements for the winter, then please don’t hesitate to get in touch!

Charlie Davies

07904 601104

Laura Cureton

07399 117257

Sam Kelly

07777 696080

Office 01454 614624


Please find below a recording of our webinar in relation to the Sustainable Farming Incentive 2023 Offer.

If you have any questions, or would like some help assessing your options please contact:

Charlie Davies on 07904 601104

Laura Cureton on 07399 117257


Calf Housing Health and Welfare Grant to open for applications

Good news! We now have detail of Round 1 of the Animal Health and Welfare Infrastructure Grants which will offer grants of between £15,000 and £500,000 to help fund large infrastructure projects. The aim of the funding will be to build new or upgrade calf housing to improve social contact and environment. The priorities for the first round of the funding are to.

  • Improve calf health and welfare

  • Enhance environmental sustainability

  • Introduce innovation

The more of the above priorities you meet, the more likely your project will be accepted. We are also pleased to hear that future iterations of the grant funding will be available for adult cattle, pigs and poultry. What funding is available? Minimum - £15,000 (40% of £37,500) Maximum - £500,000 (40% of £1.25 million) Are you eligible? You must be a cattle farmer in England, carrying out farming activity including rearing calves (with 11 or more cattle). You must be the landowner or have a tenancy agreement until 5 years after completion of the project. For tenants, if your agreement ends sooner than 5 years but you are expected to continue, you can still apply. What can the funding be used for? Examples of what the funding can be used for include.

  • A-Frame buildings

  • Mono-pitch buildings

  • Permanent open sided structures such as igloos/ hutches

  • Any other suitable types of calf housing

All housing must meet the legal requirements for calf housing and be a permanent non-movable structure attached to a foundation. Funding will also be available towards rooftop solar panels for calf housing. Ultimately, the project should deliver;

  • An ambient environment to help produce health calves that will be resilient and productive in later life;

  • Provide comfortable temperature with protection from humidity and draughts;

  • Improve social contact between animals;

  • and therefore increase overall productivity and benefit your bottom line.

Can you purchase second hand items? Yes. Grant funding can be used for second hand items but the supplier quote must include a statement to confirm it has not previously been purchased with public funding, the item is fit for purpose, the item does not cost more than an equivalent new item and is expected to last for 5 or more years. When to apply Applications will be open in the Summer (date TBC). Application process The application process will be in 3 stages. Stage 1 – Online Checker You will need to the following information for the online checker.

  • Information about your business (such as type of farmer, legal status, and landowner status)

  • Information about the project (such as calf space to be provided, building design and interior specification, and environmental impacts)

  • Information about where the project is located

  • Information about any required planning permission

  • An estimate of the total cost of the project

Stage 2 – Ambient Environment Assessment If successful at Stage 1, you will be sent an Ambient Environment Assessment to complete. This will outline details of the design and specification of the proposed housing. Stage 3 – Full Application If successful at Stage 2, you will then be invited to full application. How can you prepare for the application Contact the Kelly Farm Consulting Team for assistance in evaluating your calf housing options and for further support in navigating the application process. The application will also require advice and support from your vet – a letter of confirmation to support the project will be needed at full application. This can be discussed as part of your funded Annual Health and Welfare Review. Apply now for your FREE Annual Health and Welfare Review at the link below! This will fund a free vet visit to discuss the health and welfare priorities of your farm.


Charlie Davies

07904 601104

Laura Cureton

07399 117257

Sam Kelly

07777 696080

Office 01454 614624



Kelly Farm Consulting 

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