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Steve Brown

1 February 2002

Steve Brown

Steve Brown farms 200ha

(500 acres) in Co Durham,

in partnership with his

parents. The familys 125-

cow herd is run at Hopper

House, with a 200-ewe

flock and replacements on

grass at a separate unit

and the remaining land as

arable crops

AS USUAL, the New Year resolutions melted away before the snow. I vowed to meet all paperwork deadlines for calf passports and registrations, but Im already behind schedule.

Ive also promised to buy a fax machine, which Im sure most producers already have. Licence applications have so far been sent via the local farm shop, but I feel obliged to buy a sandwich each time. A fax machine of my own may soon prove cheaper.

Other planned investments include the annual promise of a replacement bulk tank, particularly as one of the old Desco bulk tanks wants to die with dignity.

However, Im not in favour of bulk tank euthanasia and a water leak from the ice jacket was repaired with quick drying cement and some glue from a box of heat detectors, which were close to hand. So far this has had limited success.

Milk yields are a couple of litres lower than the same time last year because no straights are being fed on top of silage. Labour and time constraints prevent this manual task.

To solve this, I made a firm inquiry into some out-of-parlour feeders having seen some operating successfully. They will compliment our low labour system.

Unfortunately, the dairy supply companies are busy with large-scale parlour installations and improvements before re-stocking. Consequently, our winter feeders should come to fruition around turnout time.

I also planned to use the existing parlour feed bin to save money on extra bulk storage. Sadly, that bin has developed a crack and will have to be replaced, as it cannot be repaired with quick drying cement and heat detector glue.

Also this month, the loader tractor and shear grab were serviced and silage is now being cut out of the clamp better than before. A deteriorating clamp face would only exacerbate the low yield situation.

That just leaves the muck-spreader to repair. While lower feed intakes mean lower yields, the quantity of muck seems as colossal as ever. &#42

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Steve Brown

2 November 2001

Steve Brown

Steve Brown farms 200ha

(500 acres) in Co Durham, in

partnership with his parents.

The familys 125-cow herd is

run at Hopper House; with a

200-ewe flock and

replacements on grass at a

separate unit and the

remaining land as arable crops

OUR lodgers, the hill sheep, have celebrated their anniversary. But despite them having to stop longer than we expected, we have been paid for the pleasure of their company.

With our milk sales unaffected by foot-and-mouth, Ive felt a bit guilty accepting payment for looking after them, but Id rather keep my bank manager happy than his.

Our original concern that the sheep would reduce our winter forage stocks has been put aside further by baling some third cut grass silage and more wheat.

The subsequent straw shortage will be partly offset by using up last years round bales. These now have a crispy shell and a few chunky layers, but ultimately a nice soft centre. We will also use more cheap sawdust to dry up loose pens before adding straw.

Cows are still grazing, as the weather is still mild and grass in abundance. But to maintain milk yield, round-baled silage has been replaced at the feed barrier by first cut from the clamp. Apparently, this should be so palatable that they will be reluctant to wander off down the field to graze. However, at milking time 20 or 30 will prefer the outdoor grazing option – unless it is raining, when about 50 will prefer to stand against the furthest hedge they can find.

This applies day and night, but the desire to make the most of grazing may soon be overtaken by a need to have cows available for morning milking and night-time housing will begin.

Winter housing of the remaining stock should not provide too great a shock, as the majority has remained indoors because of movement restrictions.

A sole occupancy licence is hopefully in the pipeline to allow movements to the other farm and Im in search of a licence to move the next batch of beef calves. This application is through my local Trading Standards office, which makes a change from telephoning DEFRA officials in Leeds, Northallerton or Newcastle, depending on which office the others recommended. &#42

Steve Brown still has grass available for cows, despite hill sheep staying for the whole summer.

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