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Farmer Dan 6465

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     Having looked at our land last year, there was an apparent surface compaction in some of the grazing ground, and almost all of the silage ground, and a slitter was duly purchased after trying on some ground near the farm. However, we are now having problems with the knives bending and breaking on the machine.

     I am wondering what I am doing wrong for so many knives to bend, forward speed about 9 km/h, ballast of 400kg on a 3m machine, heavy clay soils, about 7 inch depth.

    My current thinking is that the ground is not suitable due to stones, but I am not sure if there is too much weight on top.

    Any Help would be greatly appreciated.


     Should have mentioned that it is only used in straight lines, and always lifted for turning

    Thanks for the reply


     Having just spent a good while reading this thread, there appears to be a consensus that twins are either good or bad, and I beleive this is a bit of a blinkered view.

    We are a dairy farm at home, so I have absolutely no knowledge of sheep, so can pass no comment on twin lambs.

    However in cows, we have seen quite a few sets of twins over the years, some good, some not so good.  With regard to twins always being runts, this is not the case for us, as up until recently the two largest cows in our herd were a pair of twins, one of them went to the "factory" last year, and the other is still the largest cow we have, but she will probably go this autumn, she is now a 9th calver, so probably time to send her on.  This cow only had 1 set of twins to my knowledge (can't really vouch for the first few calves, spent my time at school then), which was December 2010.  This was a natural calving to British Friesian resulting in a bull and a heifer, unfortunately the heifer was led on at only 3 hours old.  The bull calf was kept as normal to approx 2 weeks old and then sold at the local market.  This calf realised 60% of the value of the single calf of the same age and sire sent in on the same day.  So I suppose that one was not so good

    The other cow was one that would often seem to have twins, we had 4 Friesian Heifers out of her in 2 calvings, all of which were kept as replacements for the herd, 3 of them bred fine (one third calver, one second calver - yesterday morning, and one currently dry with her second - due next week) - the other was lost as a TB reactor before service so we will never know.

    We currently have approximately 8% of the herd as twins, none of which have had fertility issues, but all of which were 2 heifers.  We did an experiment with "twins to a bull" and due to being under TB restriction we kept 2 of them, 8 months apart (small scale I know - but still an experiment).  Both grew at approximately the same rate as the rest of the bunch, the younger one was lost as a TB reactor, but was never seen bulling either.  And the older one was ready for service at the same time as 5 others of the same age, and were turned in with the bull at 21 months.  7 months later, TB restrictions were lifted, and said heifer was in the store cattle ring at market the following week - not in calf, she made enough to cover the cost of keeping her, but not much more.  The 5 others duly calved when they were supposed to, and all within 10 days of one another, so the bull was working fine.

    Since this all twins to a bull are sold as calves at approx 2 weeks, with the return from a pair of twins (m/f) often being similar to a single bull calf, with twin bulls 50% more than a single, but never yet double the value, with f/f twins kept they probably do realise twice the value of a single.

    The biggest problem we have found with twins is the subsequent fertlity of the cow, with the majority of twin calvings resulting in a retained cleansing.

    Thinking back on this, we have only culled 1 cow for fertility in the last 5 years (closed herd, trying to expand, so not as harsh as most on culling), this cow (Basher - for a reason) had an assisted calving of Limousin x Bull and Heifer, these sold at 568 for the pair at 17 days in early 2009, so going by that it was good, but the cow never got back in calf, and was sent on 6 weeks ago as barren, so going on that it was bad.  But every cloud has a silver lining, as a 6th calver she made 836, and we no longer have to repair the front feed manger in the parlour.

    Following my ramblings, I award a medal to any that gets through this entire post





     Quite a bizzare and unfortunate one recently happened to me, but no H&S intervention is necessary, it was entirely my fault.

    One Sunday evening three weeks ago I had just finished pushing the silage up for the milkers - bales in front of barriers, pushed over with a pivot steer so the cows can eat all of them, when getting out of the handler I stepped on a twig!!!!!! (3 inches long, 1 inch diameter)  This may sound completely harmless, and normally would be, however in this case I now have a broken foot, am in plaster up to my knee, and using crutches to get around as I am not allowed to walk (according to the NHS).

    Lesson to be learnt - never bale up branches, knowingly or not, it will come back and bite you


     Gulli, Your response has interested me, and in some senses i completely agree with you, crossbreeding does have a place in farming, especially in producing suckler cows, with most dairy breeds producing too much milk and lower quality calves, and the risk of purebred beef breeds not producing enough milk, resulting in a calf that doesn't do as well.  But your opening statement I am not so sure about, is it such a bad thing for a cow to be average in both milk production and beef production compared to good in one and bad in the other, more so in the dairy sector than beef.  Margins in all livestock farming are tight, and in dairying all extra milk output has to be fed for, so the higher yielding cow will be more expensive to keep per lactation requiring output to be higher to pay for this, whereas increasing calf value will be for a very minimal marginal cost for each calf - how much more expensive is it to keep a 200 calf for 2 weeks is it than keeping a 2 calf for 2 weeks.  So going on this theory would the lifetime profit of the dual purpose breed be reasonably comparable to the extreme type.

    Commenting on longevity - was quite suprised to see the volume of 07 and 08 cattle in the barren ring today, we must be doing something wrong in terms of lifespan.

    Kol, haven't heard of any farmers using Dexters around here, but do know one who is using Angus x Jersey heifers for similar reasons, seems logical to me.  With regard to rearing 2 calves, does this require hours and headaches with adoption of a purchased calf, or do they know something I don't about twins?

    Bovril, I have used observations and market reports from the local calf ring to value calves, with the jersey x angus heifers usually making 10-12, Bulls 20-25, and Jersey x Blue Bulls typically 40ish.  I don't doubt that some of these could do well for beef, however many of them sadly don't make it.  The Angus x Jersey heifers were being shot until the farmer I know decided to try them as sucklers, even then he only paid 10 a piece, so hardly high value.  I have always viewed young calves as a better indicator of genetic value than stores or fat cattle due to there being far less human variables through their life, also they are the only ones I ever see sold as we don't do store cattle, which are sold on a different day to calves, so never see them in market, and fat cattle don't sell till late in the day, so I have always gone home.


     Try your local JCB dealer if you are looking for a book, but I agree with concreter about doing things slowly to start with, and jusk keep tryin, I have found practice is the best way to learn.

    Try asking your boss if you can just have a go on the handler on your day off, so you can get used to the controls, play with the various buttons in the cab - no manufacturer installs a self destruct button, so providing you are not too near to any objects it may teach you far more than a book ever can - chances are your boss would think highly of you for putting some of your own time into learning.

    Maybe doing something which involves moving low value objects (straw bales etc.) would be a better way to start, rather than trying to move pallets of expensive items.



    This does potentially open up a huge can of worms, doesn't it!

    I suppose there is the question of why the farmer has chosen to go down the appeals route - under valuation (damn tables), flawed test (not how it was carried out, but the actual test), on principal of loosing valuable bloodlines, or any other reason.  My personal beleif is that the mixing of the 2 vials is more likely to be the case winning technicality rather than the farmer's reason for the case.

    So, where do I start. Lets try valuation.  The tabular system that has been introduced seems to be far too crude for my liking, based on huge variations because of the variation in quality of animals sold, not taking in to account different breeds, only dairy or beef, pedigree or non pedigree.  It appears that old barren cows from the dairy sector are hugely over-valued, whereas youngstock values will not cover a comparable replacement.  The previous system of individual valuation was expensive, and it was prone to a certain degree of dishonesty among some people, so that is unlikely to come back for many cases, but in certain situations of high value genetics, or less common breeds this could be a better option.  In the dairy sector I think that a tabular valuation could be made to work, but it needs fine tuning, and to be based on more factors, such as PLI, yield, cell count, age, as well as market value of what should be a much closer animal to the reactor, not a mix of high quality animals at a genuine dispersal and animals of a dubious quality sold through a market.  I suppose the drawback to this is the increased amount of data that is needed may not be available for dairy animals, but in the beef sector, the high volumes of store animals being sold should make this a feasible option, although based on different parameters (age, weight, breed, conformation), but again for breeding animals individual valuation may be necessary.  As with cattle that are finished, or near to, should be a standard deadweight/liveweight sale, since the meat is for the food chain anyway.

    The test, well local anecdotal evidence is that the Gamma test does not produce negative results - so why bother doing it, just take the animal or find a more reliable test.  Our vet informs me that the Gamma test identifies contact with TB, not infection.  There would be uproar if we decided to cull all people that had been in contact with the common cold, so why do it with cattle.  The skin test also has a degree of inaccuracy to it, with one farmer I know having had a milking cow tested approximately 20 times during it's life, passing them all, including 2 weeks before slaughter, only to find visible lesions in the abbatoir - a false negative, but there are also cases where a skin test failure results in a negative culture - a false positive.  To my knowledge the highly reliable test requires the slaughter of the animal, so that will never take off as a means of testing - even us simple farmers are not that stupid.  We need a reliable test, soon.

    With regard to the preservation of bloodlines, unless the bull was destined for an A.I. stud to live in confinement, there is little chance of this ruling helping, as there will be too high a risk of also infecting breeding females with TB during service, and following this i would assume the bull to be practically unsaleable after these publications.

    The farming community wants to see the back of TB, and the crippling consequences of the disease, but this requires multiple measures including increased testing of cattle - 4 year parishes, not good enough, 1 year, probably not often enough.  Personally I would go for 120 day testing for all cattle and the removal of pre-movement requirements, as testing every 120 days should be often enough.  I beleive movement restrictions are adequate at the moment, with the 60 day testing in reactor herds.  This may be controvertial, but a degree of control in wildlife is needed, no farmer wants to see the eradication of wildlife, just the eradication of disease, and we need to do better at getting this point across.

    Vaccination could be a route to go down, but I suspect the Eurocrats will say differently, but all options need to be explored.

    Maybe the industry should cost share with DEFRA on TB, maybe paying for routine testing in exchange for wildlife control with fair compensation and quick removal of reactor cattle.

    We need to hit the disease hard and strive to remove it, not just try to stop it spreading any more



     No, we are not vaccinating this year and have never done so in the past, closed herd, Flypor every 8 weeks, suits us.

    Beware of unruly neighbours importing cattle from the continent, they do come with risks


     Just out of interest, was the bull re-tested at 60 days with the rest of the herd?


    [quote user="henarar"]one of the thing I was trying to find out by this post is how long do you think the cows need to be dry for to make them produce there colostrum properly I was thinking that we may be pushing are cows a bit far?[/quote] 

    One of our vets once told me that cows do not necessarily have to be dry at all, and will still produce good colostrum, but you are likely to have cell count/mastitis issues.

    He reckoned that they should be given 6 weeks dry at least, 2 weeks break down of udder, 2 weeks to fight off infections, and 2 weeks to build up for next calf.


    Think it may be this one

    Andrew Richardsons book, Sentenced, is a 56-page anthology of poems, pencil drawings and paintings reflecting his time behind bars. Priced 16, its published by




     [quote user="glasshouse"]Landlords have no need for tenants[/quote]

    Surely if there was no tenant, there is no landlord??


     I must say that I was not even considered, let alone conceived until over 20 years after metrication, but am still guilty of the use of a mix of metric and imperial units when it comes to length and area.

    I have always used acres to measure the fields, purely because everyone else around here does - we buy in grass keep at x per acre, contract work is done at x per acre, and many people appear to not have a clue about how large a hectare is.  Prime example, talking to a neighbour last week about silage areas - he asked how much ground we had shut up for first cut, I replied 80 Hectares.  Guess what his response was, that's right, How many acres is that?

    It seems that the older acre measurement is used by a vast majority of people, making the use of hectares almost irrelevant around here, despite it being the "correct" measurement.

    I do resent that farming is being implied to be behind the times as the only industry using imperial measurements though, some examples:

    Horse racing - Miles, furlongs, yards etc

    Football - 6 yard box, 10 yard rule for free kicks

    Motor industry - miles, used for speed limits, distances etc. Miles per gallon for economy

    Construction - feet and inches often used for measurement

    Butchery - still using pounds and ounces (remember how heavy the Christmas turkey was)

    And above all the pub's - how many people ask for 568ml of beer, it is always a pint

    Consequently people always want to buy milk in pint's as well.


    While I may not condone the use of 2 different sets of measurements, the reality is that some will probably never be eradicated no matter what is taught in schools, as at the end of school, young people will quickly learn to use the same units as everyone else, regardless of what they were taught.

    Just because this happens in farming does not mean farming is archaic.



     Could you elaborate on the arrangement, and what is going wrong



     Seems to be completely unfeasible to pay you per litre, but not allow you to feed the cows.

    This appears to be a poorly thought out agreement from the start, and it seems that without being able to feed for it, the only way you could increase yields would be to tighten the calving interval, but this can often take years to properly sort out, so 365 seems to be too short - is it a rolling contract?  Granted there are many factors that affect fertility, but the main ones seem to be out of your control - breeding, feeding etc, so I suppose you can only really focus on getting the cows into the best possible condition to keep them able to express genetic potential - simple things like feet.

    How much control do you have over the cows, are you actually just milking them, or are you managing them?

    Also, what Service system are you using - Stock bull, DIY AI, Tecnician, RMS?


Viewing 15 posts - 1 through 15 (of 811 total)