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Patrick Cock

20 September 1996

Patrick Cock

Graeme and Patrick Cock run a pedigree herd of 300 Holstein Friesians and 200 followers on 202ha (500 acres), 93ha (230 acres) of which is owned at Ashburton, south Devon. The brothers harvest 40ha (100 acres) of forage maize – and milk three times a day.

OUR service period is now in full swing. With warm, dry weather over the past few weeks and milk proteins 0.1% higher than last year we are optimistic that conception rates will be good.

Organisation has been the key to heifer AI. Prostaglandin was used to synchronise heifers which were split into three groups of around 30 to ease handling and stress on man and heifer. Heats were still spread over 48 hours, with some a day either side of this and some not responding.

Our young Holstein bulls are now running with the heifers. But we may remove them to catch the main week of returns depending on how busy we are or whether we think it is worth the extra effort.

We recently started rearing our calves in batches using Wydale feeders due to the condition and shortage of old pens. It was cheaper to set up this batch system than to buy new pens and it also saves labour.

However, I think 15 in a batch is a bit ambitious. It brought back memories of feeding pigs – bucket of feed in one hand and large stick in the other.

Batch sizes are now 10, although five is probably more ideal, but we ran out of the old gates to set up pens (next years mission perhaps).

Other tasks involve reseeding around 50 acres of grassland with a medium term ley, our first for some years. Some of this is needed because of the pounding it took last autumn when we were awaiting completion of our newest cubicle shed.

My most hazardous job at the moment is tail painting the cows twice a week. Attempts to paint them in the feed passage failed miserably.

Most cows hare off down the passage – taking the rest with them. Those that do stand still long enough are inclined to either fill your boots, kick you in the kneecap or flip their tail where it hurts.

We now do them in the parlour, which far from being less of a danger, does ensure that I get them all painted. However this involves balancing on the stall, with brush in one hand and paint in the other. But first remembering to switch off the fans to avoid a cheap haircut. The biggest worry is that a two-foot drop, and a slick soled pair of wellies are the only thing between myself and the next generation of young Cocks.n

Patrick Cock is optimistic that his efforts at AI will lead to good conception rates. If only tail painting cows was as easy.

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Patrick Cock

2 June 1995

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.

OUR first cut was put away over the VE day weekend, writes Patrick. Although some of it didnt seem much heavier than a decent lawn mowing, the quality was amazing in terms of grass leafiness and the weather conditions. We also spread the grass and a good proportion of it must of been coming in at 40-50% DM.

We made the most of good travelling conditions to lime around 150 acres of the first cut area and the couple of days of rain that we have had since has washed the lime quite well into the grass stubble. Liming of grassland can easily be neglected as over the winter ground conditions are often unsuitable and by the time it dries up there is too much grass. The agronomist who tested our swards made the observation that often grassland deemed to be poor by farmers is ploughed up and put into cereals. The soil is then tested after ploughing and limed accordingly. His comment was that if liming had been maintained in these swards they would perform well.

Some of our silage grassland surrounds part of a local village and it has been alleged that as well as grass that we have also been making cats into silage. In previous years there have been reports of cats gone missing around silaging time and two or three have been reported missing or injured again this year. We have never seen any signs of chopped cat either at the clamp or during feeding out but it could well be that pockets of silage within the clamp do have the benefit of improved feeding value due to blended cat.

One resident did have more damning evidence however. A neighbour had found in the field after silage just the head and one leg remaining of his feline friend. I had to admit this did sound fairly conclusive. Every time we enter the field with the mower now the children of the village rush out to try to retrieve their perfect pets before the mower has a chance to give them a haircut. Perhaps we should consider in future doing a moggy alert in the area prior to mowing.

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