With the cows finally dried off for a few weeks, and with the feeding down to a minimum, it allowed each of us to have a great Christmas break. We returned with our batteries recharged and keen to get jobs done before we got busy. Unfortunately we hadn’t finished milking when the big freeze arrived and the seals on the milk pump only allowed us to milk 12 cows at a time, on a 50-cow rotary.

Out wintering has been a success and allowed us to keep 480 animals out in the nice fresh weather. We definitely made the right decision with the soil types – free-draining sandy soils with the minimum of mud to contend with. Heifers on the kale soon got a taste for the crop and were on a rampage getting into the next break; they have learned, like the cows, to push over the electric stakes. We have replaced these with live pigtail stakes.

The accompanying grass silage bales were also a little fluffy, so we have put in some hay and straw. This has calmed them down considerably. We lost a couple of cows on the fodder beet to bloat, which again was due to insufficient fibre and the frost. The carried-over grass for the carried-over heifers was substantially reduced by snow from 3750kg/dm/ha to 2500 so we have added more feed. What was that about a low-cost system?

What we need is some recognition of how wonderful our lovely milk is, as I’m afraid most people still think dairy products, in general, are in some way harmful. They are missing out on a wonderful fresh product, which, when it comes from grazed grass, is positively the elixir of life, what with all these added CLAs, omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids with all their anticarcinogenic properties. Most people probably don’t get past the fatty acid bit. Time for some education, I think.