Farmers throughout the country have been looking at ways of reducing their livestock feeding bills this winter.

Some of them are growing their own grain instead of buying in expensive compound feeds which are costing well in excess of £300 per tonne at present.

A number of farmers in Fermanagh and the Clogher Valley took action last spring by planting some cereal crops.

Those on better quality land have a better chance of successfully growing cereal crops, and with the expectation of good summer weather, feel they can produce a successful crop.

Among them is Stephen Bothwell from Fivemiletown, who planted around 40 acres in spring wheat and after a good growing spring and summer, he harvested the crop last week.

The wheat was combined by Graham Johnston from Dromore at between 25-35 per cent DM for crimping.

The straw, which was not fully ripened, was lifted with a self-propelled forage harvester and ensiled for winter feeding.

The high-energy feed will be given to Stephen’s dairy cows as a substitute for expensive compound feeds normally bought in.

Stephen says he was pleased to get around three tonnes to the acre in yield, and says his fields in wheat were the most valuable acres on the farm this year.

Wheat prices are ranging well in excess of £300 a tonne.

Stephen is now planning to drill winter wheat, which has the potential for higher yields next summer.

Another farmer growing a cereal crop this year was Mark Fawcett, from near Enniskillen.

He planted spring oats and was pleased with the crop yields in excess of three tonnes to the acre. The oats were harvested by Mark Brownlee with his Class combine harvester.

The crop was treated with additive to provide a winter feed for his livestock.

Even though a crop such as this required herbicide and fungicide sprays and plenty of fertiliser applications, Mark is encouraged to plant again, hopefully a winter crop if ground conditions stay good this autumn.