Chris Knowles farms in
partnership with his
parents in the West
Sensitive Area near St Ives,
Cornwall. The farm consists
of 97ha (240 acres) of
grassland and 45ha
(110 acres) of rough
moor land, stocked with
160 dairy cows, 80
followers and 50 assorted
SUMMER here in west Cornwall finally began during the second week of July and we took the chance to make 8ha (20 acres) of hay to add to this years fodder mountain.
There must be either a hard autumn or winter ahead to balance all this extra grass.
Niggling cases of mastitis keep rearing their ugly head. As usual, a handful of cows with high cell counts are the culprits. These are always older cows which are milking well and there are a few too many to deal with the problem simply by culling alone.
But I culled five persistent offenders this summer to try to keep cell counts under control.
Recent higher temperatures, aftermaths coming back into the rotation and unseasonably high grass growth rates make maintaining grass quality a struggle.
We have several leys which contain some Italian Ryegrass. These fields are difficult to manage at this time of year, with the Italian going to head so quickly. Mowing these fields in front of cows works well, as cows are unable to select the leaf from the stem.
We are running 64 six-month-old heifer calves as one group. We are keeping them on aftermaths as much as possible and concentrate feeding has stopped. It has surprised me just how much grass this age group will get through when conditions are favourable. Should weather or grass quality deteriorate, concentrate feeding will begin again.
Both I and my father managed to fit in a weeks holiday during July. I had attempted to organise a surprise trip to Paris for my wife Rachels birthday, but she managed to find out most of the details before we went. Leaving the girls with granny and grandpa worked well, especially for me and Rachel. *
It is surprising how much heifers will eat when they are offered aftermath grass and conditions are favourable, says Chris Knowles.