Dry start not all bad news for Tom Rawson

As I write, the met office report is full of rain for mid-May. I just hope by the time you read it this prediction has become a reality.

During April, rain was promised but never delivered. In fact, between the 1 March and 8 May we have only seen 9mm of precipitation. Somehow the grass has just about kept up, with growth peaking at 97kg/ha DM a day then falling steadily down to 34kg/ha DM a day.

One major advantage is the dry matter of grass has been amazing with cows taking longer than planned to get through each paddock. The autumn calvers in Lincolnshire are averaging about 18 litres a day, which is higher than February. This is all off grass and after a long winter this will hopefully allow us to see some slack in the amount of milk cheque left after our monthly commitments.

Last month saw us celebrate 12 months at Bleasby Grange. Although we knew of the huge challenge in front of us, it has certainly been a steep learning curve and I would imagine one day it will take at least a chapter of my book.

Some of the negatives have included throwing a large amount of milk down the drain with cell counts, drought followed by the worst December on record, having to keep the farm organic through 2010 and finally having to source maize along way from the farm.

Positives include an excellent fertility session that will set us up for the 2011-12 calving season, the unit design working for cow flow and cow health and finally the new friends we have made and the support both mentally and financially from fellow farmers and industry. Thanks.

Tom and Catherine Rawson are involved in three separate dairy farming-related businesses. The core enterprise is milking 650 mainly crossbred cows on a high-forage, block-calving system. Tom is also involved with the management of a further 800 cows on a part-time basis.

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