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Robert Morris-Eyton

27 September 1996

Robert Morris-Eyton

Cumbrian farmer Robert Morris-Eyton farms 243ha (600 acres) at Millom, with 380ha (940 acres) of common grazing rights. He milks 170 pedigree Holstein Friesians, and runs 1350 mainly Swaledale ewes.

Building contractor, Ian Pickhall, has made progress with the new slats in one of the feed passages. By the time this article is published the remainder of the concrete should be complete and the scrapers re-installed ready for the cows to start coming in at night.

The recent spell of sunny weather we have been experiencing in the Lake District has been very welcome, allowing the cows to continue grazing night and day with access to silage mixed with caustic wheat and soya after milking.

This is the first year buffer feeding has been continued throughout the summer with the cows split into high- and low-yielding groups. The high yielders have taken at least 10kg of silage and 2kg of wheat all summer even when moved to silage aftermaths. The ration is now being gradually increased to a full winters ration aiming for 25 litres in the parlour.

Not only has the weather been good for the cows, it has made for an extremely easy harvest albeit the moisture control of the grain was not critical due to immediate caustic treatment prior to storage. Last years wheat ground has been reseeded and next years 40 acres has been drilled by the contractor with his combination drill. The reseeds would benefit from some rain because they are looking very patchy and will not have time to become properly established before winter.

I have recently been advertising for an assistant herds-man/shepherd and had numerous replies. During the summer I have had a neighbouring farmers son working on a casual basis prior to returning to university to further his education having already got his degree. He has decided to take up the position which I was delighted to offer him. Hopefully it will leave me with more time to enjoy my young family growing up and I can concentrate on the management of the farm and perhaps do a little more land agency work.n

Robert Morris-Eytons cows are grazing night and day after a spell of sunny weather, with buffer feed now increasing to winter levels.

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Robert Morris-Eyton

19 January 1996

Robert Morris-Eyton

LAST summer I bought a 3t tracked excavator second-hand, predominantly to repair and renew drains.

To take advantage of the last of the current grant schemes, we have built about 300m of sod and stone embankment, double-fenced it and replanted the hedge on top. The old hedge had long since fallen into a state of disrepair.

The mini digger proved a real asset, cleaning off the sides of the embankment, replacing the larger stones and lifting in the soil behind the stone facing. It speeded up the job considerably compared with all hand work, which is how the bank would have been built originally.

The Farm and Conservation Grant Scheme provides a 25% grant based upon either standard or actual costs. The cost of reinstatement could not be justified without grant assistance. I trust the government will replace the existing grant scheme when it finishes on Feb 19, or more existing hedgerows will disappear.

The continuous necessity of form filling and proper records seems to take up yet more time but frequently I now find it is not the form itself that is complicated, it is the possible ramifications of each answer and its interlinking with other forms and rules.

An example of this is an application for additional sheep quota from the 1995 national reserve and the requirements to fulfill quota.

I have spent a little time studying our cash flow budgets and wondering how come I could be so far out. Most normal trading items were about right, some such as milk were slightly better than forecast, others, for instance repairs, were worse, but by far the biggest discrepancies in timeliness were government subsidies.

Though I welcome the subsidy, particularly being a predominantly LFA farmer, and would not wish to do without, it can make proper financial planning difficult when money does not arrive. &#42

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Robert Morris-Eyton

12 May 1995

Robert Morris-Eyton

All our sheep records for the Hill Livestock Compensatory Allow-ance have just been checked by the MAFF inspector and found to be in order.

I should have nothing to fear from an inspection, but there is always the chance that a genuine error could have been made – and at risk is a substantial subsidy payment.

Most of the stock are now out, having had their Dictol vaccine and worm bolus. Last year we tried boluses for the first time and were very pleased with them. They appear expensive compared with alternatives but I believe they are cost-effective in terms of labour saved and animal performance.

Worming in the past tended to be as and when required. But by this time the animals had already suffered a growth set-back. In 1992 a group of young calves missed their lungworm vaccine. They were turned out to grass in July; during September we lost two and the rest of the group never fully got over the set-back, with the result that some have already been culled for poor yield at the end of their first lactation.

Last years fodder beet were finally used up, as the last of the cows were turned out, having stored with very little wastage.

A small area that had not been harvested in the autumn was finished in March. The lifter struggled with some of the tops that had died off but those beet that were missed were eaten by a group of served heifers and dry cows which could be run out of the buildings during the day when the weather permitted.

This years crop, 5ha (12 acres), was drilled on Apr 28 into a good, firm seed-bed. The field had grown winter barley and been mucked hard before ploughing. All the fertiliser has been applied, including boron and magnesium and a pre emergent spray of Lenticil.

The 10ha (25 acres) of winter barley is growing well now, having been accidentally grazed with sheep during the winter. The two fields are not our best land, being heavy clay and prone to water-logging. &#42

Robert Morris-Eyton – growing fodder beet again this year.

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