Miles Saunders has been
farming organically since
1989. Main enterprises on
his 370ha (915-acre) Oxon
farm are 250 milking cows
and followers, 80 beef
cattle and 200 Mule ewes.
Organic wheat and beans
are also grown
AS THE years go by, some things go round in circles. One of those is the return of a Hereford bull to the farm.
After waiting three months for a movement licence, the young bull arrived, quite content, in the livestock trailer.
He was welcomed by 50 heifers, most of which should already be in calf. He spent the following day resting.
I have returned to Herefords because I am conscious organic standards are tightening and I need beef x cattle that will finish well off grass and silage, rather than expensive concentrate costing more than £200/t.
The bull has been introduced to heifers slightly earlier than usual, because our heifer conception rate has been poor. I think this is because semen has not kept its potency during the time from thawing to insemination.
Natural service will also save time, as we are currently a stockman short, having reshuffled staff. The relief herdsman has now progressed to herdsman and I am now looking for a competent relief herdsman/stockman/tractor driver.
The new herdsman has taken to his new job with enthusiasm. The dairy has had a spring clean and Ive been left with a problem of insufficient bulk tank space as daily milk production has increased to 6000 litres.
Silage stocks are somewhat limited this year. I will eke out forage by zero grazing some grass later in spring. One advantage of not having sheep on the farm is that I should have plenty of grass ready for cutting much earlier than usual.
As this is my last Farmer Focus article, I would like to thank all readers of my monthly articles. I have been writing for four years and thought it would be interesting to compare todays happenings with January four years ago.
Then, we were struggling with temperatures of -9C – similar to this year. We were producing 6100 litres/cow and are now at 7000 litres.
Diet remains similar, consisting of predominately grass clover silage with organic wheat and organic beans. I no longer need to worry about sheep scanning as only 11 remain on the farm. *