Farmer Focus Livestock: Clyde Jones gets ready for winter

Rotary parlours are great, especially when they are working. On my weekend milking, I had that sinking feeling, and sure enough, as soon as the first 50 cows loaded on to the milking platform, the main drive came to a grinding halt.

Now I am many things and have been called more besides, but an engineer I am not. But with an adjustable spanner and a torch I managed to get it going up to warp factor eight. I am amazed at the ease of milking a rotary delivers, although to put cows through quickly requires good technique as there are no automatic cup removers. The cows have got better on entering the parlour over the past year, and we can do over 300 cows an hour when at grass.

Now the autumn herd is inside, full up on their ration and giving about 26 litres, cow-flow has slowed.

We had planned to go self-feed this winter, but as we are carrying too many cows for the size of feed face, the ration of 30kg maize silage, 20 grass silage and 10kg brewers grains together with 6kg of blend consisting of 50% wheat distillers, 25% sugar beet and 25% soya hulls is proving to be popular – must be the amount of alcohol-related products included!

We have sorted the out-wintering options, with the spring calving heifers on kale with a few bales of silage on the side, the autumn heifers on a fodder beet field with bales and the spring calving cows on stubble turnips and straw, with all the fields close to buildings so we can pull out the odd cow. Any thin cows will be inside on self-feed maize silage and hopefully won’t be thin for very long.

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