UNFORTUNATELY, WE are no longer keeping any bull calves born on the farm. It suited our system to take them to 29.5 months on silage and corn. However, with no headage payment and 8% set-aside on all arable and temporary grassland both these areas will be reduced.

The 30 remaining beef cattle, that were yet to be housed, have been sold as stores, so we now only have a few dry cows left outside. They are making a bit of a mess, but are brought in as they approach calving. Milk quality is still reasonable and much better than last year.

We have started routine fertility visits with the vet again. We use activity monitors to PD most cows, but they are still scanned by the vet. We are finding fewer cows showing no heats.

Most of those now checked as non bullers have a problem, which is treated. Before the pedometers we estrumated about 12 cows every two weeks. This is now only one or two.

I continue to be locked in a battle with a semi-automatic scraper system in the cubicles. Having replaced and adjusted a selection of parts, it is still a lottery as to whether the passages will be clean each morning. One of the disadvantages of long passages and only a 100mm kerb is regular scraping is vital.

A new John Deere arrived on the farm with hardly any attention, as a 6610 was replaced with a 6620. However, there has been much excitement over the refurbished MF 135. With new brakes, wings, seat and even new lights front and back to go with the paint work, there is no shortage of volunteers to drive this fine machine.

The novelty was just wearing off when I bought a new box type yard scraper. Now the yard scraping “outfit” not only looks the part, but does an excellent job in half the time.