FARMER FOCUS: Cow cubicles are finally conquered

The past six weeks have probably been the busiest and therefore quickest of our lives thus far. We have said au revoir to our first French student and bonjour, bienvenue en Angleterre to our next.

Kevin was incredibly lucky – for the two months he was here he only had one properly rainy week and so he leaves with a false sense of British weather. Elise hasn’t been as lucky, as the typical British summer sets in. Such a difference from last year, as the rain comes just in time to save the grass and give the maize a boost.

At last we have conquered the cubicles and managed to split the milking cows into three management groups; fresh and high yielders, mid- and low yielders and the much anticipated heifer group. Now to start on the next project – converting the redundant straw barn into a purpose-built heifer unit. The barn runs parallel to the nursery (the calf village) and so calves will enter into a larger group of up to 20 calves. They will then move up to the next size of cubicle, hopefully until 18 months of age, when they should be three to four months in calf. We have ummed and ahed over bedding choices. We originally planned for some sort of mattress with a bedding on top, but it is more likely we will go for a deep bed filled with straw, which should help with training and get them used to the deep bed principle. If it doesn’t work we can always fill in with concrete and add mattresses later!

We also had a family wedding, with Sam and Emily tying the knot on what was probably – and definitely felt like – the hottest day of the year. It was a truly fantastic day and was a great coming together of two farming families.

Brothers Ben and Sam Foote farm 150 dairy cows plus followers on 125ha with their parents in Hampshire. Production stands at 9,000kg, but this is expected to increase alongside the total of number of head

See more