Farmer Focus Livestock. Folklore proves unreliable for Clyde Jones

The funny thing about a “black-thorn winter” (when the threat of winter returning is ever present while the blackthorn is in flower) is that you never know when it’s going to happen.

So we started our second rotation thinking winter would return. However, instead we get sunny, warm and damp weather. That’s the thing with old country folklore – never set your watch by it.

Growth rates have shot up to an average of 65 kg/DM/ha with some fields growing more than 100kg/DM/ha, making an average cover of 2300. I had better buy some plastic sheeting just in case. Maybe I’ll establish a new folklore myth – “A farmer that buys early black plastic is a victim of his own success”.

We have just combined the autumn and spring herds into a big 400-cow munching mob. Firstly, this was because paddock sizes at 5ha are better for grass use with a target cover of 2600 taking down to 1600 just right for the day. It also speeds up milking, getting them through in just over an hour.

To carry the grass job on we are looking to overseed permanent pastures with fresh grass seed. It’s amazing what varieties are available. We can now use high-sugar varieties with the usual late heading types, but there is now a winter-growing grass which should help us preserve our wedge ready for turnout.

Having just had a soil analysis, we have good indices for phosphates at three to four. The organic matter and microbial activity is predictably low.

Our vet Andy is concerned about health issues and so are we after he passed on his cold. He suggested we check magnesium supplementation in the water trough by tasting the water. Now suffering from gastroenteritis and E coli infection I can confirm magnesium levels are fine and that the water is not too bitter.

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