There is never a dull moment in farming. After the last edition my forage fears have been eased by the exceptional grass growth. We now have a 200t excess, but feel the maize will be 400t short.
We are growing wholecrop wheat to fill the shortfall. The wholecrop is double the area we were going to grow and will cost £9,000 extra. I’m just praying for favourable growing conditions for the next year or else our forage stock buffer will be totally eroded and we will be feeding cows hand to mouth.
The bale silage that we’ve been making has been fantastic, with some proteins up to 18% and high DM of 50-60%. We are now feeding these and have seen an instant increase in butter fats to nearly 4% (unheard of in these parts), which is great news as our new fat-weighted contract starts in the new year.
Building work is going well, but a little behind, with the Royal Wedding having slowed work in April. The slurry lagoon construction was very fortunate. We had 1,750 lorries up our drive over eight weeks with no rain until the final day. The unforeseen extra costs are proving problematic – we have a contingency fund, but it is looking a bit poorly caused mainly by the three-phase electric connection that we now need planning permission for. The timelines for this are tight and we will risk retrospective planning as a decision will not be made in time to open the unit and have the power installed.
Sir Alex Ferguson refers to “squeaky bum” time at the end of the season and we are fast approaching that, as the old unit will not hold all the cows much past completion day, and in-calf heifers are fast approaching. We just need to buckle up, hold tight and keep going.