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JCB wins it's biggest ever UK order as Perthshire farmer invests
Protect herds from spring butterfat depression and improve fertility with strategic fat supplementation
Morris Leslie, whose firm has bought £87.5 m worth of JCB machines-2.jpg

JCB has won its biggest ever deal in the UK after a Perthshire farmer placed an order for £87.5 million worth of machines – including a big fleet of iconic 3CX backhoe loaders.

The huge order has been placed by Perth-based Morris Leslie Plant Hire almost 50 years after Founder Morris Leslie started the company on his parents’ farm in the Carse of Gowrie, near Perth, where he began buying and selling construction equipment. Today his company operates across the UK – with many of his firm’s customers working in the agricultural sector, particularly in Scotland.

Morris Leslie Plant Hire’s new machines include a bumper deal for 50 JCB backhoe loaders, at a time when new figures show a resurgence in demand for backhoes in the UK, with the market growing by more than 12 per cent in 2022. The investment will also see the company take delivery of Loadall telescopic handlers, excavators, site dumpers, and compaction equipment, underlining its commitment to provide customers with the most up-to-date machines possible.

Manufactured at JCB’s factories in Rocester and Cheadle, Staffordshire, all the new machines are powered by the latest Stage V engines which deliver low emissions. They are also fitted with the JCB LiveLink telematics system which enables Morris Leslie Plant Hire and its rental customers to monitor the safety, productivity and emissions of the machines. The order will be supplied by dealer Scot JCB to Morris Leslie’s 14 nationwide depots throughout 2023.

Morris Leslie, Chairman of the Group, attended Elmwood Agricultural College, Cupar and today he owns and operates four arable farms in Perthshire and Angus covering a total of 2,000 acres.

Morris Leslie said: “Our business was founded on a farm in 1974 and I am proud that farmers and the wider agricultural community continue to be vitally important to the success of the company today . This order ensures we can continue to support them with the very latest and best equipment.

“We are delighted to have agreed our largest ever order with our long-term partner JCB to support our 2023 growth plans and by the end of the year our entire JCB fleet will be operating with the latest Stage V engines.

“The backhoe loader part of the order is particularly pleasing, and we look forward to seeing ongoing growth of our JCB 3CX fleet. The backhoe continues to be hugely popular with our customers thanks to its excellent loading and excavating capabilities and the ability to travel directly to the site, cutting the need for costly transportation. Scot JCB and other JCB dealers around the UK continue to provide first-class service to our depots and our customers.”

JCB Sales MD Marco Bersellini said: “We are proud of our long-standing partnership with Morris Leslie Plant Hire. This deal confirms that JCB has exactly the right products to meet the needs of hirers and end users.”


Rumen function and energy supply are paramount to protecting butterfats and fertility during spring grazing.


As dairy herds are turned out for spring grazing, producers must balance rumen function and energy demands to avoid butterfat depression and fertility issues, says Dr Richard Kirkland, ruminant nutritionist for Volac Wilmar Feed Ingredients.


“Rumen function is put under a lot of pressure at turnout as cows go from having a controlled ration that is balanced in fibre and starch to a more variable forage base of grazed grass,” explains Dr Kirkland. “While the diet transition alone is enough to cause challenges to the rumen that can have an immediate impact on milk production, early grass growth may be akin to rocket fuel and is expected to be rapidly fermentable.”


High in energy, more rapidly-fermentable forage can cause disruptions in rumen pH and pass more quickly through the digestive system. These conditions lead to an increased risk of acidosis and along with the high oil loads pose a significant threat for milk fat depression, making supplement choice of paramount importance.


Fat supplementation in buffer rations help meet energy needs


Variable spring grazing conditions make it harder for energy supply to be maximised with a drop in fertility as a consequence. In perfect grazing conditions it is possible to support 25+ litres of milk per day, but dry matter and energy intakes can be significantly reduced in wet, overcast conditions.


“Especially for spring calvers, maximising energy intake is essential during the early part of the grazing season as cows’ have a greater nutrient demand to support milk production and body condition ahead of breeding within a short window of time,” says Dr Kirkland.


During early lactation, cows cannot eat enough to meet the high energy demands of milk production and enter a state of ‘negative energy balance’, using energy from body fat stores to support the genetic drive for milk production, and lose condition. Research indicates a fall-off in conception rate of around 10% for each 0.5-unit loss in condition through this period.


To minimise this effect, composition of buffer feed needs to be carefully considered says Dr Kirkland. High-fibre supplements such as citrus pulp and soya hulls will provide a better balance in the rumen and in conjunction with a rumen-protected fat supplement can provide the greatest response in milk fat as observed in research studies at the University of Nottingham.


While it may work out on paper, supplementation with rapidly-fermentable carbohydrates such as wheat or barley as energy sources offer greater challenges and increase risk of acidosis and making the fall in milk fat worse.


“Rumen-protected fat supplements have around 2.5-times the energy content of cereals, making them ideal to help maintain energy supply through variable springtime grazing conditions without the undesirable rumen effects we see from starchy cereals through the transition from the winter diet to the spring grazing scenario,” he says.


Using strategic fat supplementation to optimise milk contracts


According to Dr Kirkland, individual fatty acids impact cow performance and influence partitioning of nutrients between milk and body fat stores (cow condition). Therefore, fat supplements should be selected based on the blend of fatty acids they contain depending on the stage of lactation, individual farm challenges and requirements to maximise returns from specific milk contracts.


To support both fertility and milk production during this time, Dr Kirkland advises feeding a rumen-protected fat supplement with a research-proven ratio of C16:0 (palmitic acid) and C18:1 (oleic acid) to strategically influence the partitioning of nutrients between milk and body condition.


“Fatty acids, the building blocks of fat supplements, influence the partitioning of nutrients to specific areas of cow performance, enabling producers to choose supplements according to milk contract requirements at particular stages in the lactation cycle,” explains Dr Kirkland.


During the early lactation period C18:1 is a key fatty acid, increasing partitioning of energy and nutrients to improve body condition as well as improved development of fertilised eggs. However, given the challenges of early spring grass, products containing higher levels of C16:0 can be considered as effective ingredients to increase milk fat production.


“Careful choice of supplements is essential at grazing to provide those vital megajoules of energy in a form that stimulates the rumen and milk fat production,” Dr Kirkland concludes. “Selecting a rumen-protected fat supplement, farmers can support both fertility and milk production performance while helping ensure energy demands are being met in a safe way.”

UK’s top scientists join forces to battle bird flu outbreaks

Some of the UK’s top scientists are to set to join forces in a major new research consortium in the UK’s battle against bird flu.

The eight-strong consortium, headed by the world-leading research team at the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA), has received £1.5 million from the Biotechnology and Biosciences Research Council (BBSRC) and the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) and has been tasked with developing new strategies to tackle future bird flu outbreaks.

This year’s bird flu outbreak has been the largest and longest ever experienced in the UK and in many parts of Europe. The outbreak started earlier than previous years after the virus continued to circulate in Europe over summer 2021 and led to more than 100 cases in the UK.

It is hoped the consortium will be able to find new ways to contain future outbreaks. The news will be a significant boost to the UK’s poultry sector and rural economy, which has experienced significant disruption from this year’s outbreak with compulsory indoor housing measures put in place to protect poultry from this horrible disease.

The consortium will focus on building our understanding in a number of key areas, including:

  • what it is about the current virus strains that helps them to form larger and longer outbreaks;

  • understanding transmission and infection in different bird populations, including how the virus transmits from wild birds to farmed poultry, the gaps in biosecurity that allow the virus to penetrate premises, and how this could be addressed;

  • mapping and modelling the spread of infection over time and across species;

  • why some birds, such as ducks, are more resistant to bird flu strains;

  • developing models to predict how the viruses will evolve and spread in the future; and

  • inform risk mitigation measures in birds to reduce disease burden thereby protecting against zoonotic transmission occurring from animals to humans, to prevent future spillovers of influenza with pandemic potential into humans.

Christine Middlemiss, the UK’s chief veterinary officer, said: “This new consortium will allow us to combine our expertise at a national level to increase the speed and quality of our research, ensuring we can develop new strategies to aid our efforts against this insidious disease and hopefully in time reduce the impact on the poultry sector.”

Professor Ian Brown, APHA’s head of virology and project manager, added: “This investment in a new research consortium will bring together the greatest minds from eight world-leading British institutions to address gaps in our understanding of bird flu, helping us to control the spread of the disease, while furthering UK animal health science and ensuring we maintain our world-leading reputation in the field.”

Five-year warranty adds security for Suffolk contractor
Join us for the 2022 Royal Welsh Show

Monday 18th – Thursday 21st July

We can’t wait to welcome you all back onsite at the showground in Llanelwedd for this years’ Royal Welsh Show!

Along with an exciting four-days of livestock competitions, with entries travelling from far and wide to compete, the show has something to interest everyone through its wide range of activities including forestry, horticulture, crafts, countryside sports, shopping, food and drink and a 12-hour programme each day of exciting entertainment, attractions and displays.

Please note: With the exception of assistance dogs, dogs are not permitted within the showground perimeter fence during the Royal Welsh Show.

With 30 years’ experience producing high-quality forage, Suffolk contractor Brian White knows what he wants from his tractors and machinery.

“Weather extremes in recent years have made it much tougher to make high quality hay and haylage,” explains Brian who runs BW Forage from Pond Farm House, Capel St Mary, near Ipswich. “Timeliness is everything, which means having productive and reliable kit at your disposal.”

Part of that philosophy has seen recent investment in a new Kubota M7-133, with front linkage and pto, and an LK2100H loader, supplied by local dealer HOS Plant.

“My previous tractor and loader, an 8,000-hour JD 6520, was bought with 2,500 hours on the clock,” he says. “It was a good tractor, but when the time came to change, a like-for-like replacement had only a one-year warranty, and a considerable price increase. I was resigned to buying another secondhand tractor, until HOS Plant introduced me to the Kubota M7.”

“The M7-133 came with a five-year warranty, and a very sensible purchase price, and both are very important to me,” he says. “The cost-saving could let me invest in other equipment – and that’s important for my business.”

Brian admits that the Kubota was not his first choice for a 130hp tractor, but now with 500 hours on the clock, he says it has fitted in well.

“It’s actually a wonderful tractor, and it’s enabled me to move up from 40kph to a 50kph transmission,” he says. “Cab comfort is superb, visibility to the pickup hitch is great, and the loader is absolutely brilliant. I’ve always had MX loaders – they are familiar, strong and easy to control. So that was something I was keen to stay with.”

With the focus on producing several thousand round and square bales for livestock and equestrian customers, Brian says the LK loader comfortably handles pairs of 90×120 square bales without the need for any rear wheel weights.

“The tractor is very stable, it’s got good balance,” he adds. “And I’m pleased that I don’t need to add rear wheel weights.”

Having front linkage and PTO in the specification was essential for high output mowing.

“I use a front and rear plain disc combination, so I can drop a lot of grass quickly, and make the most of the weather conditions,” he says.

He adds that backup and support from HOS Plant is good, and views his relationship with the dealer as an essential part of support when it comes to servicing and reliability.

“I’ve had great reliability in the past with Daihatsu and Isuzu 4x4s over the years, so the Japanese engineering had an influence,” he says. “Everybody knows Kubota diggers are very good, so their tractors should be too.”

Fertility focus at Royal Highland Show

Herd monitoring technology improves conception rates through accurate heat detection and optimised insemination timing


STANLEY, U.K., 13th June 2022 – With the use of sexed semen to breed replacement heifers and accelerate the genetic progression of dairy and beef herds becoming increasing commonplace, Allflex Livestock Intelligence’s focus at this year’s Royal Highland Show (Ingliston, Edinburgh, 23rd – 26th June 2022) will be to showcase the role of technology in ensuring conception rates from sexed semen remain on par with those from conventional semen.


“Because the sorting process can make sexed semen slightly less durable than conventional semen, conception rates from the former tend to lag 10-15% behind those typically achieved from conventional inseminations,” explains Paul Mitcham, Allflex’s monitoring sales manager in the UK.


“For this reason, as well as safeguarding its viability by ensuring sexed semen is stored and handled with care and precision, it is also vital that sexed semen is used at the optimum timing. For conventional semen the general rule of thumb is for artificial insemination to take place at around 8 to 14 hours after peak heat, but for sexed semen this should be delayed to between 14 and 20 hours.


“Relying on visual heat detection makes it difficult to determine exactly when each heat starts,” Paul continues, “which is why more and more herd managers are turning to technology to accurately detect the onset of oestrus.”


The advanced electronics housed within the latest generation of Allflex’s SenseHub collars and monitoring ear tags have been proven to accurately and reliably detect more than 95% of heats, including the majority of silent heats in dairy and beef herds. “This information is subsequently relayed to the herd manager or AI technician as easy to interpret graphs and text alerts to ensure each animal, irrespective of whether she is ear-marked to receive sexed or conventional semen, is inseminated at the optimum time. As such, each animal will have a higher chance of conceiving,” Paul Mitcham adds.


“To help dairy and beef farmers understand more about how technology can improve their herds’ fertility scores from sexed semen, Allflex’s team of herd monitoring experts will be at the Royal Highland Show to showcase the SenseHub system and to offer practical heat detection and insemination timing advice.”


The Allflex stand will also showcase the company’s portfolio of livestock tagging, tissue sampling, electronic identification (EID), weighing and handling equipment including the Alligator Pro mobile sheep handling system.


For more information go to or visit the Allflex stand (Stand T 311) at the Royal Highland Show .

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