FARMER FOCUS: Ambitious breeding targets set

Calving is nearly complete and it’s nice to see rows of healthy calves bawling for food, eating, sleeping and bawling again.

Now our attention turns towards breeding, which is due to begin in earnest on 1 November. Cows have all been checked post- calving and activity monitors have been attached. This helps us build a picture of who is and who isn’t cycling prior to breeding.

I’ve set some ambitious targets this year, but everything is looking promising. With the semen tanks full up, serving time will soon come around. This season we will be housing our bulling heifers at home and serving with sexed semen. Having wanted to use this in the past we’ve been hampered by lack of decent handling facilities. But with this problem hopefully overcome we’re excited by the potential results and the difference it would make to our herd.

Two weeks ago it was my brother’s wedding, and needless to say there were a couple of hitches. Returning from the pre-wedding meal the night before the ceremony, he found his bride-to-be in the kitchen having had a puncture in their car and not able get home.

The next day the milking parlour pump packed up just after the last cow was milked, but before the lines could be washed through. Despite the best efforts of me and my dad, it couldn’t be fixed quickly and we were very nearly late for the wedding. However, that wasn’t the biggest problem, as the bride’s transport encountered its own set of troubles and she arrived an hour late. Racing from the ceremony back home to fix the parlour problem delayed us for the reception and the introduction of the groom’s parents for the meal.

As farmers we’re renowned for having the odd curveball ruin our best-laid plans, but getting on with the job anyway. Luckily this was the case here too and a lovely day was had by all. Even if among all the chaos the father of the groom forgot to put his socks on and gladly told all the guests who were listening!

Ross Symons farms 200 dairy cows, including his own small herd of pedigree Holsteins, with his parents near Truro, Cornwall. They are converting their year-round calving herd to autumn block calving

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