Farmer Focus : Clyde Jones 12/11/04

TRACKS HAVE fared poorly through recent downpours. On both farms some chalk has been washed away revealing small stones.

This has resulted in lame cows to treat. The best treatment after foot trimming is to dry them off before they lose too much condition.

We have also dried off about 50 cows from each herd that were below target body condition of three. These cows are now on top quality grass, with the benefit of not walking to milking twice a day.

It is fair to say we were a little caught out by the rain and I include myself in that statement as the calf rearer. We should have dried off cows earlier or brought lighter calves in. Still we learn each year and stock should catch up over winter.

Grass growth is ticking over at 20kg/ha DM, having been 50kg/ha a fortnight ago, and quality is brilliant. We have a continuing debate among ourselves whether we graze too low, particularly after Duncan and Gary have been to another farm with their discussion group.

The fact that these farms have consistently higher milk yields only adds to the “jam today, mouldy herbage tomorrow” argument. It is this time of year, after a lot of rain and the leaves on the trees have gone mildewy, that makes one glad swards are still good.

Cows are still producing 10 litres each, with butterfat at nearly 5%. This, from what we hear, is just what Westbury Dairies are after, as there is less water to dispose of.

I have been taking my lurcher dog with me when I do my weekly plonking – grass measuring – but to avoid her catching rabbits, I have attached a small bell to her collar. This approach supposedly works for the cat owning fraternity. Hope this saves me a conviction in the future.

The grass has been getting quite sticky recently and my plate meter has not been measuring correctly. With the addition of WD40 accurate grass measurements can be restored. Worth remembering that this is the time of year to lubricate your plonker.