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. *