Having spent almost the entire month of February off the farm, it’s back to the coalface for a while as the 2013 calving season gathers pace.

Visiting South America as part of my Nuffield travels and then a quick flit to the NFU conference in Birmingham rounded off a very busy month, with many thousands of road and air miles. Now, with my feet firmly planted back on the ground, calving is in full swing on both farms.

An excellent team effort since the start of calving now sees us well over half way through on the new farm and nicely into three figures at home in little over a week. One of the great benefits of block calving is that everyone is ready and focused once the work starts.

Very little silage is now being fed to the milking herd at Dolphenby, as since mid-February the newly calved herd has happily grazed night and day, easily eating down to a residual of 1,300kg/dm/ha and leaving little damage on a drying farm. Although little re-growth is evident yet due to sharp frosts and low soil temperatures, a long first round and the robust spring rotation planner will see enough grass available until balance day, which is normally early April.

All being well by the time you read this, the calved portion of the herd at home should have ventured out, which will help ease the work load. However, as I type this and look towards the Pennines, I see the fell tops are white again and spring is looking a little distant again.

Robert Craig, 41, farms 440ha of almost all grass split between two units in north-east Cumbria. A passionate grassland farmer, Robert is a 2012 Nuffield scholar and former Cumbria NFU Chairman

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