Maize is our most important crop, providing 70% of the milking goat’s ration, so it’s a relief to have it all harvested in dry conditions.
Maize silage suits goats as it tends to be drier, with more consistent quality and starch than grass silage. However, I was a bit impatient and cut some that was not quite fit.
Yields were noticeably better from the fields that had poultry muck applied, compared with fields that just had goat manure and nitrogen.
I don’t like putting nitrogen on, because driving in the crop flattens lots of plants, as my tractor wheel spacings don’t suit the rows.
In future we will use goat and poultry muck on all the maize.
We have ploughed some maize stubble ready to plant winter oats and harrowed in brown and white mustard seed on fields going back into maize. This is to try to prevent soil erosion over the winter and also meet cross-compliance requirements.
Mustard grew reasonably well last year, although I misjudged the spread width of the slug pelleter I used to put the seed on, creating a strip effect, much to the amusement of the boys out pheasant shooting.
Autumn kidding has just about finished and we have started the arduous task of foot trimming all the goats.
We do this every six months while they are not too far into pregnancy. It is made easier by a New Zealand rollover crate, battery-powered foot shears and some good helpers.
The combination of a later maize harvest and a cock-up on kidding timing, meant we didn’t get away for the October half term as we usually do.
Tommy and Megan had to settle for a day at Adam Henson’s Cotswold Farm Park and a trip to the Horse of the Year show, to see the Monmouthshire Hunt Pony Club win the Prince Philip Cup, making them the mounted games champions.
Winter weekends are now spent juggling milking and feeding around hunting on Saturdays and Tommy’s rugby for Abergavenny on Sunday mornings.
Watching with a sore head as the under-10s play in places such as Merthyr Tydfil – in horizontal rain or sleet – is something to look forward to.
Gary and Jess Yeomans run a herd of 700 milking goats across 100ha, which supplies a local cheese factory. They also own a small pedigree Welsh Black suckler herd to graze permanent pasture.