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John Glover

5 October 2001

John Glover

John Glover milks 140 cows

on his 52ha (130-acre)

county council holding near

Lutterworth, Leics. The

business is run in partnership

with neighbouring tenant

Mark Wilks, with dry cows

and youngstock kept at Mr

Wilks 32ha (80-acre) farm

AFTER four and a half years of writing articles for this page it is time to move on and let somebody new take over.

The discipline of having to write objectively about your farming business is a good management tool. At the very least, putting things down on paper for other people to read helps you think through problems.

I doubt whether now, without the excuse of writing for farmers weekly, I will sit quietly for the odd morning a month thinking about the farm. I know we all do it while we are milking or on the tractor, but that is not the same somehow.

However, we are still looking to the future and, like many other dairy producers, we are investing in it. As well as purchasing a new bulk tank this year, we are awaiting delivery of a set of out-of-parlour feeders.

With a more widespread calving pattern and higher cow numbers to spread the cost since forming the dairy business partnership 18 months ago, we feel the investment is justified.

At present, we are feeding a mixed ration for maintenance plus 35 litres with an average dry matter intake of 22kg/day. We rely on cows appetites to regulate intake, so high yielding cows will eat more than average.

This system produces a relatively flat lactation curve. Although many cows peak at little more than 40 litres/day, they often produce lactation yields in excess of 9000 litres.

Cows peaking close to 50 litres a day are achieving yields of 11,000-12,000 litres. We still have a few cows struggling to yield 7500 litres, but I wont talk about those and we do not breed replacements from them.

Heifers are averaging 7600 litres and cows 9300 litres, giving a herd average of about 8700 litres. This represents a rise of 400 litres/cow since the partnership began.

We hope by using out-of-parlour feeders to achieve a herd average of 10,000 litres on twice-a-day milking. They will also improve feed cost control.

I would like to wish my successor well and, to the rest of you in farming, all the best for the future, whatever it may be. &#42

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John Glover

17 August 2001

John Glover

John Glover milks 140 cows

on his 52ha (130 acre)

county council holding near

Lutterworth, Leics. The

business is run in partnership

with neighbouring tenant

Mark Wilks, with dry cows

and youngstock kept at Mr

Wilks 32ha (80 acre) farm

AT last we can sell some barren cows. We have 12 booked in for next week and while this is very useful there are another 12 we would like to move before housing.

We did manage to sell two cows a month ago on the casualty scheme. After deductions, the cheque for both of them came to £350 – about half of what we would have expected had we been able to sell them before their condition became a welfare problem.

This winter we will have over 300 cattle to feed and we are slowly building up feed stocks. We clamp grass silage, maize silage and wheat in a crimped form, but each year one feed does not turn out as expected.

Last year, we had a problem with crimped wheat. We were late harvesting it, used a different additive and a mistake was made with the application rate. The result was a lot of spoilage and too much wheat thrown away, but we knew it was poor quality and could ration accordingly. This year we made sure wheat was cut on time and we used our original additive, so fingers crossed.

When you finish a problem clamp you always think that opening a new one will solve any problems and milk production will rise again. This was the situation as we finished a clamp of silage, which was mainly last years second cut and had fed well.

But at the back of the clamp was a selection of cuts from different years and milk production fluctuated slowly downward as they were fed.

When we opened this years first cut we expected to see an increase in milk but nothing changed. It would seem that the grass silage was not the real problem, we had just assumed it was.

The maize silage appears to have an acetic fermentation. It looks fine and is stable, but is not palatable to cows so intakes are falling along with milk yield.

This maize clamp was opened just as foot-and-mouth started and I cannot remember a sample being tested at the time. The diet has now been changed and rock salt is offered along with sodium bicarbonate to reduce acidity. &#42

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John Glover

17 March 2000

John Glover

John Glover

John Glover

John Glover milks 65 Holstein

Friesian cows and rears

replacements on a 40ha

(100-acre) county council

holding near Lutterworth,

Leics, having moved from

another 20ha (51-acre) unit

FOR the first time we look like being substantially over quota. In previous years we would have considered buying a small amount of milk quota to help us out. But with clean quota trading at 33-34p/litre, and milk price about half of that, it does not make sense, especially when used quota can be bought for at least 20p.

Other options are to cull cows and dry them off early. While I write this, I am waiting for a lorry to collect some dry cows. We were unfortunate to lose three cows during calving. The first contracted a severe case of mastitis the day after being dried off, the other two had calving difficulties.

Nevertheless, if these had been milking since January, as predicted, they would have produced another 6500 litres or 1% of quota. We have also dried off most June calvers, although some of these were still milking at over 25 litres a day.

Another factor to consider is that next years quota will have seasonal price reductions in April, May and June.

As we feed forage to cows all year and use limited grazing, spring grass does not offer us the chance for so-called cheap milk, meaning our costs do not change much month to month.

It would make sense to sell less milk in these low-priced months and more later in the year, when prices are higher and, therefore, increase our overall milk price. So should we dry June and July calvers off early to lower production in these months?

Whatever the answer, we are now back in the silly season, with dairy companies watching each other cut their prices; ours have announced a 1.2p fall in April.

Another way to use over-quota milk is to feed it to calves. We had about 30 February and March born Saler calves. We sold some to see what they were worth – bull calves struggled to reach £30 and heifers averaged £1.

After that we decided to rear and feed them on surplus milk. We will look at the market again in April and decide whether to keep them or sell them as reared calves. But as the milk would probably have been thrown away, we should be in pocket regardless. &#42

Theres some tricky questions for John Glover to answer, such as whether to dry June and July calvers off early to cut milk production in these months?

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John Glover

6 August 1999

Three sires offer higher production

THREE new high production sires, Farnear Elton Ashley Diamond, Corner-Pines Avalanche and Can-Tim Ethan Jim are now available from Dairy Daughters.

Ashley Diamond is said to breed daughters with well attached udders and offers PLI £91, 1141kg milk with a type merit score of 2.76. Straws cost £22 each.

Avalanche (daughter pictured), by Bis-May S E L Mountain offers a PLI of £106, with 1117kg and 30.3kg protein. His straws cost £25.

The third bull, Ethan Jim is said to be easy-calving and particularly suitable for maiden heifers. By Bayville Ethan, he offers 1000kg of milk and £98 PLI. Straws cost £19.50 (01756-748466, fax 01756-749511).

Perfect blending

AVOID protein variability resulting from on-farm mixing of rape and soya by feeding Accumix 40 RS protein blend says supplier Cargill.

The 40% crude protein, 12.6 ME blend of rapemeal and Brazilian soyabean meal is designed for use in total mixed rations, it says.

Recent changes to UK storage and transport codes have made it inadvisable to transport two or more feed materials in non-compartmentalised lorries, says the company.

Mixed under supervised conditions and with a known point of origin, Accumix is said to conform to all UK legislation and codes of practice.

It costs from £102/t delivered (01522-556100, fax 01522-868244).

Making an organic point with weeds

ORGANIC producers can keep on top of docks and tap-rooted thistles without spraying by using the Lazy Dog tool, says manufacturer the Lazy Dog Tool company.

The tool is designed to remove the growing points of the weed with a lever action, preventing regrowth.

It is light to carry at 1.6 kg and physically strong with a long handle to minimise operator bending, says the company.

Different versions are available depending on soil type and weed development stage.

Each Lazy Dog tool costs £40 (01751-417642, fax 01751-417351).

Berth of the cool for farrowing sows

REFLECT heat from pig arks with new paint-like coating, ReduSol-Extra, applied to the outside, says distributor Stock-Aid.

Tests show that the coating reduces ark internal temperatures by up to 9C, reducing sow and piglet mortality and improving performance in hot weather, according to the company.

The product is said to be non-toxic, easily applied, long-lasting and removable. It is designed for use on farrowing, service and dry sow arks.

Paint is applied by spraying and costs less than £1 an ark (tel/fax 01485-578342).

John Martin

John Martin farms with his

parents on the Ards Peninsula

south of Belfast. The 65ha

(160-acre) Gordonall Farm

and 16ha (40 acres) of

rented land carry 400

Suffolk x Cheviot ewes, a

small flock of Suffolks and

40 spring calving sucklers.

About 20ha (50 acres) of

barley is grown

RECENTLY I heard someone saying they were time-poor despite all the labour-saving machinery they had, and I can certainly sympathise at this time of year.

Farmers are always well known for their inventive minds. But I do not know of anyone who has invented a microwave bed, which means you can have a nights sleep in 20 minutes.

Seasonal work has resumed with our second cut silage taken in the last week of July, eight weeks after first cut. Recent moisture stress was overcome with 15mm of rain around July 20, and grass started to bulk up.

Grass growth has spurted, with a few seed heads appearing, so tight grazing by cattle followed by topping is the procedure to maintain quality. We have found good response to cattle slurry this season when applied after grazing and rain is imminent to wash it in.

Cattle are well settled and most cows should be back in calf again. The final arrival for this year only appeared on July 15, so his mother, along with a few other late calvers, will have a change of address quite soon to keep our calving tight. Home-mixed meal is being offered to calves in creep feeders to maintain growth rates until weaning.

The remaining lambs were weaned at the end of July and the final cull ewes were identified. We now have about 20 culls to sell. Even if the price is not very attractive, they will go sooner rather than later.

Lamb prices continue their downward slide, further depressed by warm weather and weak demand in France. The only up side is breeding sheep should be cheaper than last year. We have been tighter when culling ewes this year, so along with about 35 homebred ewe lamb replacements we will buy about 40 hoggets.

All ewes and lambs were dipped recently using an organophosphorous product. I am aware of the risks to operator health, and we do all we can to minimise these, but we have yet to find a product as effective.

At last, we seem to be controlling the small number of lambs with severe foot-rot through paring and foot-bathing. This along with dagging and another worm dose is ensuring lambs are finishing in greater numbers now. &#42

Kevin Daniel

Kevin Daniel has a mixed

lowland holding near

Launceston, Cornwall. The

65ha (160 acres) farm and

20ha (50 acres) of rented

ground supports 70

Simmental cross suckler

cows, 380 Border Leicester

cross Suffolk ewes and has

28ha (70 acres) of arable

JULY has turned out to be extremely dry, with only 8mm of rain and the past two weeks almost dawn to dusk sunshine at Trebursye.

This has perfectly coincided with the winter barley harvest, which started on July 24. Moisture content was down to 14%, which is in sharp contrast to last year, when we struggled with damp grain and sodden straw.

Yields have been good at 2.5-2.75t/acre – slightly above our five-year average – and 1.5t/acre of superb golden straw has been harvested in a variety of conventional and round bales.

On the grassland side, growth has almost come to a standstill and south facing slopes are beginning to burn off. But stock always seem to enjoy dry conditions and, providing they have a good supply of water, seem reasonably content. If grazing starts to get seriously short we shall probably begin creep feeding calves and feed cows barley straw.

Experience has shown that once parched pasture has had adequate rain resulting regrowth is of good quality and animals rapidly regain any condition they may have lost.

The first of this seasons lambs were slaughtered on July 10, six days earlier than last year. They averaged 20.6kg deadweight, grading Rs and Us for confirmation. Price was £1.82/kg, based on an R2/3L grade. This compared extremely unfavourably with last years £2.40/kg for the first draw of lambs, and represents a £12 a lamb drop year on year.

That causes me great concern as to where prices will go during the autumn. To counter low prices we shall try to increase carcass weights, although we need to take care that lambs do not become over-fat. But if every producer takes this route to help maintain margins, it will just increase the amount of meat on an already over-supplied market.

We have also taken the precaution of increasing our area of catch crops grown after winter barley, should we need to hold lambs into the New Year.

We have drilled 11 acres of stubble turnips at 1.5 kg/acre and 12 acres of rape at 2kg/acre; 150kg of 20-10-10 fertiliser will go on once crops have established. &#42

Richard Thompson

Richard Thompson farms a

325ha (800-acre) mixed

arable and dairy unit near

Kings Lynn, Norfolk. The

200 dairy cows average

6500 litres on a simple, high

forage system. They are

allocated 40ha (100 acres)

of permanent pasture and

44ha (110 acres) of short

term leys and maize grown in

the arable rotation

SO far this year we have had a good grass-growing season for Norfolk.

We topped all the paddocks in June, and due to good rainfall, they provided quality grazing to mid-July.

Grass started to dry up towards the end of July, so cows are now being buffer fed with 10kg of first cut grass silage. If things continue to dry up, we will increase silage to 20kg a head. However, our autumn calving herd is now drying off fast, which is relieving pressure on grazing.

Having increased our cow numbers to 200, we keep being caught out in various ways. The latest is with water supply to drinking troughs. We were finding that after the afternoon milking, cows were emptying water tanks in paddocks.

We thought we would have to put in some more water tanks. But having examined the plumbing we found the 0.5in inlet pipe was being reduced down to less than 0.25in by inserts and high-pressure ball valves. We altered the plumbing and used high volume ball valves so there were no restrictions to the 0.5in water pipe. This resulted in more than doubling the speed at which water tanks were refilled and this has solved our problem.

Cows have continued to milk well. During the past six months yields have increased from 5600 litres to 7000 litres. The disappointing part is that yield from forage has reduced by 400 litres. There are two main reasons for this: First, having run out of maize silage in March, we have been feeding high levels of concentrate to spring calvers in order to protect their fertility. Second, we have fed over 200t of C quota sugar beet. This is costed in at £8/t, which on our costing system means it is not counted as a forage, although, at that price, it compares favourably with most forages.

After a slow damp start our maize has romped away in hot June and July weather. There is a huge difference between the three drilling dates, with the earliest drillings being 7ft tall by July 20. In future, we must try to get maize in as early as possible after grass silage. &#42

John Glover

John Glover milks 65 Holstein

Friesian cows and rears

replacements on a 40ha

(100-acre) county council

holding near Lutterworth,

Leics, having moved from

another 20ha (51-acre) unit

THREE barren cows were ready to go the other week, but fate was against us and one had to stop behind.

Although we had sorted them out, we had not had time to check their ear-tag numbers and, sure enough, one had lost its tag. As she was on a passport, and needed a replacement tag, she could not go.

The other two were loaded without any bother and sent with the correct paperwork. But the next morning we had a phone call from the abattoir with a problem.

One cow was a down-calving heifer bought last year, which we could not get in calf. She was born before July 1996, so did not need a passport. But we had no date of birth and gave her age as three years. That would have been fine until the end of June, but as of July 1 any cow exactly three years old would need a passport. We had sent them on July 15.

We then had to make a 140 mile round trip to alter the cows age by 15 days and sign a new form. Although it was petty and annoying, if the abattoir had not spotted it, we would not have been paid for her.

I do not think I can be cynical about silage additives any more. Salesmans claims have always been difficult to prove and trying to keep treated crops separate for comparison is not always practical. Last years grass silage was put into Ag-bags and I had not intended to use additive, but we had one box left from the previous year. It was enough to treat 100t of grass.

We started feeding the treated silage in about June and nothing appeared to happen, except cows started to eat more total mixed ration. Cows only have an exercise area of about six acres for 75 cows in milk, so they were not eating much grass. But the forage DM intake increased by about 10% to 14kg/cow a day and milk yields have kept up at about 4500 litres sold for the month.

It may not be conclusive proof, but grass silage will run out next week and we will change to a 100% maize based diet, so we will see what happens then. &#42

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John Glover

15 May 1998

John Glover

John Glover currently milks

65 cows plus followers on a

40ha (100-acre) county

council holding near

Lutterworth, Leicestershire,

having recently moved from

another 20ha (51-acre)

county council farm

WHAT did we do last month? Like everyone else, we waited for the rain and snow to stop.

Over the past few days it has started to dry up and we are looking to turn the cows out soon but the field chosen is still wet around the gate.

The contractors have started ploughing for the maize, but this will also need a few days to dry out before working down and drilling. In an attempt to catch up we also used them to top dress the wheat, putting on the second dose of nitrogen at the end of April. We would still like to top up to about 180 units of nitrogen but I wonder if the crop will have time to use it all and how late we can apply the final dose (you can tell I am not an experienced cereal grower).

The same contractors have also been tidying up round the yard, putting down a concrete pad for two bulk bins, a new water supply in two fields, about 400t of crushed concrete to improve access around the yard and a base for the Ag-bag for the silage.

April is also the new financial year for our landlord, the county council, and now it will be able to finish off the building work from last year. At present the builders are cladding the side and end of the parlour building, and have put extra roof lights over the pit, which, along with the white plastic sheets in the parlour, has greatly increased the daylight in the pit.

Last months rain also highlighted the need for some extra drains around the yards, which means more digging up through the yard and around the dairy. All the water collected will be stored in a lagoon to be built later this summer. It will be 50m long and about 20m wide in the form of a giant ditch with gently sloping sides to support a lining sheet. The nominal capacity is to be 250,000gal, about four months of dirty water. The capacity is theoretical and it will be interesting to see how we cope with a wet spring.

Its a new financial year, so building work has resumed, says John Glover.

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John Glover

20 March 1998

John Glover

John Glover currently milks

65 cows plus followers on a

40ha (100-acre) county

council holding near

Lutterworth, Leicestershire,

having recently moved from

another 20ha (51-acre)

county council farm.

SO SIMPLE a child could use it. It is and he does – the parlour that is – and he is not four until the end of March.

I saw a cluster come off early only to be told: "Ive taken that one off for you, Daddy." (He had pressed the override on the ACR). His other achievement was to let a side of cows out while some were still being milked and of course it had to be a milk recording night. The cows themselves can also operate the vacuum gates – one clever cow let a side out as I was dipping them. I think she licked the control knob enough to turn it.

We only have one cow left to calve, then we have a break until June. Seven cows calved in February producing 10 calves. Three sets of twins were born, the most "productive" cow having triplets last year and twins this year, making five live calves in 11 months.

However milk production is what we are really interested in and that is a different matter. The first cow to have twins was presented to the vet a week later with suspected salmonella (which proved negative) but had retained her cleansing, causing infection and loss of appetite. She did not recover and was sold this week.

The second one also retained her cleansing, developing an infection which needed vet treatment, but is still around although not producing much milk.

The third one was treated with antibiotics as soon as she calved. She is still holding cleansing but does not have an infection, but again is not milking very well.

The total contribution from these three cows is about 30 litres of milk a day and if this does not improve (which does not appear likely) the remaining two cows will be sold.

The rest of the cows that calved in February are milking well with the best ones producing over 40 litres. The cow which had the triplets last year gave 9000 litres in that lactation.

Dry cow management is the key and although it appears adequate for normal calvings it is not for cows under more stress, eg those with twins, and I have got until June to look at ways of improving it. &#42

So simple a child could use it – John Glovers youngest son has progressed from toy tractors to operating the milking parlour!

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John Glover

20 February 1998

John Glover

John Glover currently milks

65 cows plus followers on a

40ha (100-acre) county

council holding near

Lutterworth, Leicestershire,

having recently moved from

another 20ha (51-acre)

county council farm.

Mastitis has reared its ugly head with a vengeance over the last two months. At its peak in mid-January we had seven clinical cases under treatment at one time (out of 60 cows in milk). In December we had six cases in five cows, in January 11 cows were treated, and at present 14 cows have been affected with two cows still affected.

Cell counts have naturally been affected as well. Before we moved, cell counts ran between 140 to 160 (000), the last two months are as follows:

December (000) January (000)

4/12 490 5/1 148

7/12 334 14/1 532

17/12 165 19/1 199

21/12 165 25/1 271

Once the cases are under treatment the cell count drops back to its usual level. However in some cows although a clinical cure seems to have been successful, routine cell counts with NMR show differently. The worst cow has a cell count of 5,082,000 which accounts for 42% of the bulk total of 240,000 on the day of recording.

Several steps have been taken: Recurring cases have been culled, although the high cell count cow is still to be culled as the NMR results only came yesterday. Until she goes her milk will be discarded. The cows that were tested showed that Step. uberis was responsible for the mastitis – a bacteria found on straw bedding. The antibiotics used have been changed as has the teat dip and we also leave the cows to stand for 30min before they return to the bedding. We have also had the parlour checked.

The actual cause of the outbreak will be a combination of factors. We had a lot of calvings around this time and although the loose yards were cleaned out on December 16 and again on January 20, I still feel that there are too many cows in there – we have 50sq ft of lying area and 85sq ft of loafing/feeding area a cow and until the new building is put up next year we will not be able to achieve the planned 75sq ft of lying area and 75sq ft of loafing/ feeding area.

The parlour also had a few surprises. The most important was a vacuum level which was too high, and which can cause subclinical mastitis and high cell counts.

Add to all this together with moving farms and it equals a lot of stress on the cows. &#42

The vacuum level in the milking parlour has been too high – one of the contributory factors in the recent mastitis outbreak at John Glovers farm.

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John Glover

28 November 1997

John Glover

John Glover currently milks

65 cows plus followers on a

40ha (100-acre) county

council holding near

Lutterworth, Leicestershire,

having recently moved from

another 20ha (51-acre)

county council farm.

WE FINALLY moved the milking cows on Oct 30. By lunchtime they were in their new housing and able to settle down before milking in a strange parlour.

The two systems are totally different; in the old set-up cows were cubicle housed, and milked in an abreast parlour, in the new one cows are loose housed and milked through a 10:20 herringbone parlour with ACRs.

We were surprised how easily the cows went through the parlour that first night; the worst part was getting cows through the door into the building which houses the collecting yard and parlour. With four of us milking – two in the pit and two to drive them in – and two parlour fitters and two electricians to supervise, it took about 40 minutes to milk the 51 cows, even though we do not feed in the parlour.

We tried parlour feeding in June as an experiment – the idea was to have a trial run before we moved. It is surprising how quickly the cows adapt and how well they stand. We decided to stop feeding for two reasons. Firstly since we bought a diet feeder 18 months ago the high yielding cows we wanted to eat the dairy cake would leave most of it and then the stale cows would clean up 3-4kg instead; the second reason was down to me. I could not resist the temptation to over feed certain cows. Another benefit we found is that the parlour was easier to clean and, with no feed about, does not attract vermin into the parlour.

In the last few days before we left, Martin, the new tenant, started to milk a few cows along with mine. These cows were fed cake and as my cows knew it was there they were most unsettled to milk, I bet that Martin is still over feeding his best cow (Norma) though.

To compensate for no parlour feeding we increased the number of litres we fed for out-of-the-parlour. This worked well as the rolling yield peaked at over 8200kg this summer. However some cows got fat and were cashed in before August for between £500-£660 each – those were the days.

We have still not finished building yet and may have to manage this winter with the cows as one milking group, although I would like to feed the low yielders separately to stop them getting fat.n

John Glover was surprised at how well the cows adapted from cubicles and an abreast parlour to loose housing and a herringbone parlour after their move on Oct 30.

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John Glover

31 October 1997

John Glover

John Glover currently milks

65 cows plus followers on a

20ha (51-acre) county

council holding near

Lutterworth, Leicestershire,

with a further 13ha (32

acres) of land.

He is due to move farms,

having recently gained the tenancy of another

40ha (100-acre) county

council farm.

DOWN came the rain. The weather can always be relied on to cause problems. Maize harvest has not yet started; the first delay was waiting for the clamp area to be finished, but I now have a Tarmac base which was put down on Oct 7.

The base was made using hardcore from the old parlour building and old concrete removed during the building work. This was crushed using a hired machine to reduce it to pieces of about 7.5cm (3in) and smaller, producing 150t of usable hardcore. The Tarmac was laid on top of this in two layers, the first a coarser mix 7.5-10cm (3-4in) thick, topped with a fine mix containing sand to produce a smooth, fine finish with no joints. The total finished area is about 12.1m x 36.6m (40ft x 120ft).

With clamp ready, bale walls in place, the contractor arranged for the weekend, down came the rain.

The following Tuesday – we will be there at 4pm, says the contractor. The walls were sheeted and ready at 3.45pm when the phone rings. "We are ready to start but its raining here – whats it doing with you?" Down came the rain. Its now Friday, the clouds have lifted and the wind is blowing – I await a phone call.

There is another hazard to overcome during the maize harvest this year; 13 acres is grown away from home and a new dual carriageway is being constructed through it. This splits it into two-acre and 11-acre fields, the 11 acres having to be brought 400yd down the new road which, as yet, remains a mud track, before joining the old road.

We have still not moved farms and so travel to milk every day. After a lull with calving we have started again, so newly calved cows go one way and dry cows come back. The yard looks like a car-park as all the various trades are here at once – electricians, plumbers, builders, dairy engineers and bulk tank fitters all working together.

The delay – almost a month – has inconvenienced ourselves, and also the incoming tenants, as well as the farms who sold them cows but are still waiting to move them. Our thanks must go to them for their patience. &#42

The yard at Misterton Fields Farm is currently like a car park as all the tradesmen are trying to finish their tasks before the Glovers move.

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John Glover

3 October 1997

John Glover

John Glover currently milks

65 cows plus followers on a

20ha (51-acre) county council

holding near Lutterworth,

Leicestershire. He is moving

farms, having recently gained

tenancy of another 40ha (100-

acre) county council farm.

WHO would be a commuter? We are currently living at one farm and milking at the other. Me, my 24-year-old Land Rover and the dog set off to milk at the old farm about 5.30am, leaving the rest of the family asleep.

With the children at school, the next time I see them is when they are in bed at night. At five and three-years-old, they find it difficult to understand why this is so, as I am usually about at meal times and when they come home from school.

Building work has been going well. We now have the blockwork and concrete floor in the parlour and dairy, which now needs plastic cladding before fitting the parlour. Outside, the dirty water tanks are installed but not connected, and will be emptied by a vacuum tanker initially. The ground has been cleared and topsoil removed ready for stoning and concreting the feeding area and maize clamp.

Unfortunately we will not be able to move on Sept 29. It will be a further two weeks before we are ready to move the milking herd, which is at the old farm, so feeding them is being kept simple with straights being bought in small amounts, usually collected with our own tractor and trailer.

We were feeding potatoes, but decided not to order any before moving, replacing them with extra bread in the diet. This had a marked effect on quality, lowering the already low butterfat (3.6%) even lower to 3.0% for the past two weeks so we will open the grass silage clamp to increase the fibre in the diet.

The recent wet weather allowed us to spring clean and paint at the old farm ready for an outgoing valuation, but when the rain stopped it was back to straw carting.

Our own field of wheat was cut on Sept 4 and had suffered with the weather. It was harvested at 20% moisture, giving a yield of 2.5t/acre when dried and a bushel weight of 64.6kg. As there is no IACS payment on this field there is little profit in the crop.

It looks as though I will be commuting for a short time yet having to contend with the traffic – three cars and a moped – and the weather; fog this morning. &#42

While John Glover and family have moved to the new farm, the cows

are at their old farm for a couple of weeks yet – that means commuting between the two units for milking.

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John Glover

5 September 1997

John Glover

John Glover currently milks 65 cows plus followers on a 20ha (51-acre) county

council holding near Lutterworth, Leicestershire, with a further 13ha (32 acres) of rented land.

He is due to move farms,

having gained tenancy of another 40ha (100-acre) county council farm.

WE HAVE been trying a spot of alchemy, turning green wheat into gold, or that is what the man from FSL Bells says. What we have done is to store a crop of moist grain in a clamp.

The crop of Buster winter wheat, sown after maize last October, was grown conventionally until harvest. The combine went into the crop on Jul 28 when the grain was still just green and had a moisture content of 35-40%. The main problems were getting the grain out of the combine tank, which was helped by unloading on the move, the other, bindweed on the headlands.

Before the grain is clamped it is crimped or rolled, and an acid-based additive applied. This was done at up to 5t/hour.

Estimated yield was 94t from 19 acres, the high yield due in part to the higher moisture content and less shedding and combining losses as all the little grains go into the tank – wild oats as well. The heap of grain to be crimped seemed to be growing rapidly until a puncture in the combine allowed us to catch up.

The clamp was made of large straw bales lined with plywood and a plastic sheet, rolled with the Matbro as it was built, and weighted down with bales of hay. After one month the grain is ready to feed. The straw left in the field was still very green and took several more days to dry, but once baled is more like barley than wheat straw and should feed well.

We still have 12 acres of Riband winter wheat to harvest. We are playing a waiting game to try and avoid drying costs, and with nowhere to store it this must be sold off the combine.

There are several advantages of crimping for us: It means harvest is less reliant on the weather, the grain can be stored outside, we get straw with a higher feed value, fields are cleared sooner to allow earlier entry for following crops and the crimped grain is ready to feed, saving time in the winter.

As you can see I have listened to the salesman. The proof of the pudding will be in the eating – or milk in the tank. &#42

John Glover has crimped, added additive and then clamped a crop of winter wheat, which will be ready to feed out in about a months time.

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John Glover

8 August 1997

John Glover

John Glover currently milks 65 cows plus followers on a 20ha (51-acre) county

council holding near Lutterworth, Leicestershire, with a further 13ha (32 acres) of land.

He is due to move farms,

having recently gained the tenancy of another

40ha (100-acre) county council farm.

WELL we are back in the sandwich season again, with sandwiches for dinner and again for tea – but Janet says I have a varied diet because I have toast for breakfast. We are spending more time at the new farm, and with the children on holiday from school, picnics in the new house are frequent.

Progress is still slow there; so far the electricity supply has been moved and cables put underground ready for building work to start. The cubicles have been taken out and new layouts for parlour collecting yards and housing agreed.

This recent spell of fine weather has enabled us to make some hay as well as second-cut silage which has been baled and wrapped. We are hoping to refloor the silage clamp with Tarmac next spring so the second cut has not gone in.

The 35 acres of maize may be put into an Agbag if building is still ongoing at harvest. All but a seven-acre field of this is growing well, but in this field it was always going to be a risk. The field had not been ploughed for many years and was not productive. However, it produced a good seed-bed which was limed, topped dressed with 3cwt of nitrogen and 3.5cwt of 0.18.36, the same rates we use when no manure is applied. It was then sprayed for wireworms and drilled on May 14. The crop germinated well, with even full rows, but did not grow well – at Royal Show week it was less than nine inches tall.

To try and help the crop we had the plants tested for nutrient status. This was done by removing the lower leaves and extracting the sap from them to see which nutrients were limiting. In our case, phosphate and potassium were unusually low. A foliar feed has now been applied and we wait to see the result.

We have been in this situation before where the first crop struggles but following crops improve; last years Aviso – a dwarf variety – growing over 8ft tall and 20/80 up to 10ft. This causes problems when walking the crops as Matthew, who is five, can no longer see over the crop when on my shoulders.n

The recent spell of fine weather has enabled John Glover to make some hay as well second cut grass silage.

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