20 November 1998

Stephen Brandon

Stephen Brandon farms

100ha (250 acres) at New

Buildings Farm, Stafford, in

a ring fence, with another

30ha (73 acres) of grazing

taken annually five miles

away. He has 170 pedigree

Holstein Friesians and 110

dairy replacements. About

28ha (70 acres) of cereals

are grown each year

DISASTER – the cows are inside and we are feeding silage at the end of October following 76mm (3in) of rain in the past five days.

Cows came in for two days, then went out again for half a day before coming back in again. Hopefully they will be out again soon as strong winds are beginning to dry the ground out again. The plan with all the grass we have was to keep the silage clamp shut until November. Cake feeding has had to increase to maintain yields now grass is missing from the ration.

I have just been rejigging the feed budget. If we are only able to graze the milkers during the day for short periods following the rain, dry cows and in-calf heifers will have a lot of grazing to do. Before we close up for winter the average cover needs to come down to 1900-1950kg DM/ha; allocating milkers 5kg DM/day and dry cows 10kg it will take until mid-December to get the cover down to 1920kg – and that would be a first for this farm.

The alternatives are making silage or sheep. The first isnt necessary as we already have the clamps full and 150 round bales of silage. It would incur a cost we dont need and if its dry enough to silage it will be OK to graze.

As for sheep, unless we can find somebody with enough sheep who would be prepared to graze them rotationally for three to four weeks and then take them away again, I would prefer to try and graze it with our own cattle.

Young stock in their first grazing season have started to cough during the last couple of weeks so they have been wormed. We used a wormer with a long period of activity, which should eliminate the need for a housing dose. We dont normally see coughing at this time of the year, and all calves had lungworm vaccine before turnout and a worming bolus at turnout.

In the next few weeks I have to decide whether to serve this autumns calving cows – about 40% of the herd – for next autumn or leave them until next April to get the whole herd round to spring calving. The alternative may be to sell them at calving next autumn and buy in February calvers. &#42