Growth rates disappoint for Paul Vicary

As the nights draw in, we focus on the forthcoming winter and the challenges it will bring. The building works are a little behind, so I hope winter doesn’t come too soon as we would struggle to accommodate all the stock. That said, the new cubicle house is about 10 days from completion and may end up housing 25 dry cows in a shed designed for 200.

When we finally move in, life should be a lot easier; the investment in automation and labour saving will make for an easy winter (pray I don’t live to regret those words).

Growth rates in the youngstock have been disappointing this autumn. I think we over-estimated the value and quantity of the grazing as the last batch of bulling heifers had only put on about 10-15kg in the last month, when I hoped for nearer 30kg. I have upped the concentrates to all youngstock as a result.

It is vital we keep this end of the business efficient as the expansion in number is from within and lower numbers in the milking herd would affect cashflow considerably. Although we are over budget for yield and milk price at the moment, we are slightly down on herd numbers, mainly through slow growth rates and our calving interval slipping past 400 days. The growth rates can be easily fixed, but the calving interval requires time, care and attention – three things we have been lacking over this period of development.

The winter wheat for whole-crop will be going in shortly to fill our forage gap next summer – although this gap will be smaller than expected thanks to the maize coming good late. Hopefully not all the wheat will be needed and some can be sold.

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