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Graeme and

31 May 1996

Graeme and

Patrick Cock

THIS is Graeme Cock reporting live and direct form Happy Valley Road, Paparimu, South Auck-land, New Zealand. Fiona and I left the UK on May 20 and arrived here Wed, May 22. Its autumn/ winter but at 20C, it is warmer than the UK.

On Fionas fathers farm all the cows are dry, as are most cows in New Zealand from late May until Aug 1. The grass growth is better here than it has been all May in Devon, even if both places are having extremes.

Hopefully I will learn a bit while Im here, but Im still getting over that lovely 24-hour-plus flight. All you want to do after that is stretch your legs, have a fag and relax.

Grass growth in New Zealand at the moment seems to be about 25kg DM/ha/day – four or five times more than we would grow in the winter in the UK. When I return I may be able to write some more on what Ive experienced here.

Those big jumbo jets are amazing things, arent they? I had a window seat right by the wing which must be 60ft long. It was flapping up and down at take off. I wondered whether it was ever going to get off the ground. Mind you, we flew livestock class and at £615 return thats not bad value.

Back in the UK we started drilling maize on Apr 30, which was 18 days later than last year because it was so cold. But even so it still took 17 or 18 days to show – unreal for May. We also managed to do all our silage before I left. But the last 30 acres looked more like the Grassland Event. Our mower, rake, forager and trailer were all in the same field as we decided to go for no wilt and get it finished before the rain. And rain it did. We had 35-40mm that night and the next morning. The first 220 acres probably would have been 35% DM and the last 40 acres with no wilt 22-23%.

Also this year we were able to start reaping the benefits of our new slurry tanker as we managed to get 16850 litre/ha on to the aftermaths, which should be worth 10 units of N and 30 units of K an acre.n

Graeme Cock finished silage making just in time to avoid the rain and catch his flight to New Zealand and his in-laws.

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Graeme and

5 May 1995

Graeme and

Patrick Cock

Graeme and Patrick Cock run a pedigree herd of 230 Holstein Friesians and 140 followers on their 120ha (297-acre) farm near Ashburton, south Devon. The brothers grow 30ha (74 acres) of forage maize – and milk three times a day.

HOORAH! Hoorah! Spring is here. Well, it is if you disregard the three hard frosts we had last week and the wet, cold Saturday when we had over an inch of rain, which I think we needed.

We started drilling maize on Apr 12, pretty much as planned, which is unusual in itself, and 45 acres went in. Conditions were ideal and it was warmer than it is now, so it will not show for a day or two yet. Some of the heavier land that had been ploughed for some months took three or four power harrowings to get a good seed-bed, but where we followed shortly after the plough, twice was enough.

A seed rate of 43,000/acre was used, but any drilled from now will be at the lower rate of 38,000/acre. At drilling, 50kg of MAP went down the spout, while the seed-bed received 50-100 units/acre of urea, depending on the timing and levels of slurry applied before ploughing.

All young stock have been out for some days now, except the dozen very youngest heifers. The cows have also been out day and night for two or three weeks, but were housed on odd rough days, to protect the pastures.

Anybody who has a close calving pattern is always happy when the first lot go dry, and our first 35 went yesterday. They will be followed by more than 40 others in the next fortnight.

Having attended the Genus Forage Seminar at the NAC recently, I was left pondering the pros and cons of higher yields from silage.

On most farms there is room for improving yields from forage. A first cut before May 15 and subsequent cuts at five-week intervals would see national yields fly up.

At the seminar, John Downes showed how early urea on grass clover swards gave him two weeks earlier turn-out.

This was slammed by another speaker, but I tend to believe that proper management later in the season can easily put the balance back. &#42

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