ACC Contracting is pleased to announce we have invested in our fleet of tractor and grassland management equipment by popular request. We have added a drum mower, hay tedder / rake and small round baler which can be fitted to the smaller Compact Tractors to cut, ted, row-up and bale small sites for hay. The round baler produces tied up bales of 50cm diameter and 70cm width with a weight of between 30kg and 50kg, meaning they are ideal for small yards and easy to handle. These round bales are around the same weight as a conventional rectangular bale.
Please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 01491 837758 for enquiries and prices for hay making and baling. As our equipment is small we can offer competitive prices per bale or per area, as it is transported on a HGV. We can also remove bales from the field and load / stack them for you.
I haven’t blogged for a long time (far too long in fact) and hadn’t really had anything to blog about until today. I was asked to visit a privately owned livery yard by the owner. She had suffered what can only be described as a blanket of sycamore seedlings taking over an area of perhaps 5 – 6 acres. This blog deals with my view on that and also has some information around Atypical myopathy and herbicide spraying in general.
I have (in previous years) sprayed off small areas of sycamore seedlings both with a knapsack sprayer and boom sprayer and felled and removed sycamore trees to reduce the potential for the infestation of seedlings to reoccur on sites (information on Tree Work and Forestry), but had never seen such a large area so densely carpeted in seedlings.
I spent a few hours this evening researching Sycamore seedlings and the effect it can have on horses and ponies. I don’t claim to be a Veterinary Surgeon or a Veterinary Nurse, so the below is purely information I have researched out of interest. I can’t verify how truthful any of the information is, but I see no reason to doubt any of it.
Atypical myopathy is an uncommon, yet often fatal illness usually found in grazing horses, mostly in the autumn and spring, and is still a mystery. The illness weakens the muscles of the body and can present with sudden stiffness, muscle tremors, collapse and colic-like signs, with a low temperature. Often dark urine is seen. The fatality rate is around 70%.
Studies have revealed that toxins from the seeds and seedlings of the tree Acer pseudoplatanus (more commonly known as Sycamore) are the likely cause. The toxin is not always present in every seed or seedling, or in seeds or seedlings from every tree. This makes it difficult to predict whether horses will become ill when the seeds or seedlings are ingested. It is not contagious and can affect horses of all ages and types, but young and very old horses may be more vulnerable. Seeds and seedlings can be tested for the toxin, but the accuracy of any such tests have never been established.
Outbreaks of the disease tends to be seasonal, with most cases occurring in the spring and autumn. It is usually more common when horses are kept in sparse or over grazed pastures; where seeds are on the ground and are eaten when there is little other grazing.
The beginning of the disease can be extremely rapid, with some horses being found dead in their fields. Indications of the disease can include muscular weakness and stiffness, dark urine, Colic-like symptoms, and sweating and trembling. Horses diagnosed early by blood and urine tests can be treated with intravenous fluids and intensive care, but once the signs are present it is already serious.
My advice as a horse owner / equine contractor / certified and trained herbicide applicator would be to fence off areas where sycamore seeds and / or leaves have fallen or where sycamore seedlings are growing and seek advice from a vet and an insured, experienced, and qualified herbicide applicator as to the best method of removing them.
There is a lot of information floating around on the internet (and especially Facebook groups) about herbicide spraying. The key thing to remember is this – Those who use, or cause or permit others to apply plant protection products (herbicides) or who store and/or dispose of products are subject to a number of legal requirements. A landowner or livery ’causes or permits’ someone to apply herbicide if they request herbicide spraying on their land and is subject to the same legislation as the individual physically applying it. The main points that anyone in the equine industry thinking about having herbicide sprayed onto their land needs to consider are below:
- Anyone who applies pesticides as part of their professional activities must (including those previously operating under grandfather rights) hold a recognised specified training certificate.
- All those purchasing professional plant protection products must reasonably believe that products are going to be used by someone holding a specified certificate.
- All application equipment, except knapsacks and hand-held, must from November 2016 possess a certificate demonstrating that it has passed an officially recognised test conducted by the National Sprayer Testing Scheme. Equipment has to be tested on either a three, five or six yearly basis thereafter depending on when the most recent test was conducted and the type of equipment (details are available in the National Action Plan). All equipment must be calibrated on a regular basis.
- Users, or those who cause or permit use, must ensure that: all reasonable precautions are taken to protect human health and the environment; applications are confined to target areas; and in certain areas (including public spaces and conservation areas) that the amount used and frequency of use is as low as reasonably practicable.
- Priority is given to particular products where there are risks to water quality.
- Professional users and distributors take all reasonable precautions to ensure handling, storage and disposal operations do not endanger human health or the environment.
I will always offer to send copies of training qualifications, insurance, spraying records and risk assessments to potential customers. If you are considering having professional type herbicide applied to paddocks, make sure that whoever you request to do it is correctly certified and insured. After all – most herbicides are toxic and it is your horses that will be on the land that they are applied to. Would you want to take that risk?
If they can’t provide copies of training certificates, insurance and don’t seem to be keen on writing out spraying records and risk assessments and don’t appear on the National Register of Sprayer Operators (NRoSO), avoid them! Chances are they aren’t trained or qualified and the consequences of something going wrong (anywhere between a poorly horse and a large scale environmental incident), don’t bode well for anyone!
If you have any enquiries regarding dealing with sycamore, nuisance paddock weeds or herbicide application in general, I can be contacted by emailing email@example.com and will be happy to help.
More information on herbicides and the law can be found on the HSE Website here!
All the best,
I was contracted by a private livery yard in Berkshire to resolve the issue of a rotten and partially collapsed railway sleeper / timber bridge along an access track to fields. Rather than replace like – for – like with another timber structure which requires a degree of maintenance, I opted to remove the bridge completely. I then replaced the bridge with a piped culvert crossing which was not only considerably cheaper than a like – for – like timber replacement, it should also be maintenance free and longer lasting.
The culvert was made from two 6m lengths of 600mm internal diameter twinwall pipe and 20 tons of crushed concrete levelled and compacted on top to provide a substantial and hard wearing surface, topped with top soil. Two pipes were installed to allow high water levels to drain away quickly, improving drainage in the area. The whole structure was installed with the 8t 360 tracked excavator and 6t 4WD dumper, working from just one bank to reduce damage to the track and area by the heavy plant. The project was completed on time and inside the allocated budget.
Trixie is a 16.2, 7 year old Irish Sports horse with a genuine blue passport who has competed BSJA with qualifications for British Novice and Discovery 2nd rounds 2016, Amateur Championship 2nd rounds and Scope Festival 2016.
She has very good breeding with the KWPN stallion “Inocent” and also stallions “I love you” and “Puissance” both which were Olympic horses.
Unfortunately she sustained an injury to her suspensory ligaments in bothhind legs and despite extensive treatment and rest she has not recovered sufficiently to be ridden under saddle and therefore has sadly had to be retired.
She is happy turned out on her own or in a herd and she currently lives out with 3 geldings. She is well mannered, easy to handle and catch. She is excellent with the farrier, vet, dentist etc and she is currently unshod. She is up to date with all vaccinations and worming.
Home is more important than price as she is a lovely horse that needs a purpose in life more than standing in a field.
Please email firstname.lastname@example.org for further information. Currently based near Reading.
Mud can be a horse-injuring, shoe-pulling, welly-losing, pony-breaking nightmare, but it doesn’t have to be an inevitable issue in the winter and wet months. Gateways, access tracks and areas around water drinkers and field shelters normally end up the muddiest and worse poached areas and consequently are the areas that horses frequent the most and get injured in the most – whether it’s mud fever or a strained tendon.
Your paddock may be unnecessarily (or inevitably) wet and muddy for a number of reasons, but the two most common reasons the water not being able to move away quick enough (lack of drainage) or the water can’t drain through the top layer of substrate (the top 300mm – 600mm of soil is compacted). The first reason (lack of drainage) can result in water logging, which in turn makes the soil structure even worse! The second reason (ground compaction) is very common, and whenever I carry out excavations in paddocks, I always notice some degree of compaction. This is easily shown when I excavate with a machine and the top 300mm of soil is wet, but the substrate below that top 300mm is bone dry – even after a day of rain.
The first thing to check are the field ditches – are they stagnant, blocked, collapsed, or filled with debris and also the field drainage plan to establish if there are any field drains or french drains in the field, where they are and where the outlets from the drains into the ditches are. The second thing to check is the field drains – the outlets need to be above the level of water in the field ditches (for obvious reasons). The field drains / french drains may need clearing or the ditch may be need clearing if the outlets are below the level of the water in the ditch. If there aren’t any field drains or french drains and the paddock is notoriously wet then chances are that there aren’t any field or french drains in the paddock, and the paddock may benefit from the installation of drainage.
French drains are usually around 500mm deep trenches (with or without drainage pipe), backfilled with 400mm of 40mm reject stone and a 100mm layer of topsoil on the top, connected to the drainage ditches at the lowest end of the field.
Mole drains are literally underground tunnels, cut just above the field drains with a mole plough on a tractor to improve the drainage into the field drains or french drains.
In certain soil substrates, french drains or field drains are of limited or no use, and mole drains connected directly to the drainage ditches are the best course of action. Correctly installed mole drains can last for well over 5 years, although I generally renew the mole drains on my own land every 3 years, depending on the land use. Mole ploughing is also advantageous as there is very little disturbance caused to the surface or grass in the paddock (depending on substrate type), meaning the paddock can usually be put back into use for grazing very quickly.
Muddy gateways and field shelter areas will also benefit from the improved drainage the above will create. However – if it is just the gateway, trough or field shelter area that is muddy, a simpler and cheaper option may be to install a hard standing area from crushed concrete or road planings. Field shelters will also benefit from being raised up off the mud and wet ground. This can be done simply by creating a slightly raised hard standing with a timber frame edge (to prevent it from subsiding) and backfilling it with a large (70mm – 100mm) stone base, crushed concrete or road planings with the field shelter on top.
Plastic or rubber grass mats can also be easily installed by scraping the worst of the mud away with an excavator, levelling the area and laying the matting before backfilling with an appropriate material. In areas that are really muddy, it may also be of benefit to install a large stone (40mm – 100mm) base under the matting to increase the drainage and give a firm base to prevent the matting from sinking.
All the above is work ACC Contracting routinely carried out throughout the year. Please contact Matt on 0782 606 7939 / 01491 837758 or email@example.com for advice, costs and solutions to winter mud problems.
All the best,
Matt – ACC Contracting.
Part time professional equine groom required in the Swallowfield, Berkshire (RG7) area Monday to Friday for a private family yard of up to 6 horses. Must be reliable and punctual, and have previous experience with horses.
General yard duties required including pooh picking paddocks. Possibility of ridden duties depending on experience.
Good rate of pay per hour depending on experience and qualifications. References required.
Please email CV and contact details to firstname.lastname@example.org.