Farmer Focus: Concreting, biomass and reclamation plans for 2018

We’ve gone from one extreme to the other with this weather. These past two nights we have experienced -8 and -5 degrees.

Luckily the parlour didn’t freeze and we haven’t had major problems, but the calf feeder had a few issues with a frozen milk machine. However, it didn’t take long to thaw out once we got the space heater going.

See also: Model dairy farm: Prospects for 2018

Looking ahead for 2018, we are planning to utilise the biomass boiler a bit more. We’ll get some pipes from it to supply the calf shed with hot water, which will keep the calf feeder happy.


We are planning to reclaim a 7ha field. But because it contained a wet hole and was by the river, the Scottish Environment Protection Agency were not too keen to let us fill it in.

However, we have now got a licence that allows us to do so and will hopefully be finished by April next year, which will enable us to reseed it into grass.

We currently have hardcore around the yard, and would like to lay a bit more concrete as well as what we have already done, just to try to keep everything a lot cleaner.

Milk price

But, all the best laid plans hinge on a good milk price for the foreseeable future. With such volatility in the industry, however, we maybe can’t see that happening

Nine months ago, we used a percentage of beef semen on the bottom end of our herd and it has now kicked in as the Holstein and British Blue crosses are being born.

We can move them at a fortnight old so we are making space for Holstein heifer calves and hopefully our heifer rearing costs will start to reduce a little.

Looking to next year for silage, after having a four-cut system this year, we are possibly looking into going back to a three-cut system.

We’ll see if we can get a bit more structure in the grass and hopefully the cows can utilise it better

We’d just like to end by wishing you all a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year and thank you for reading these articles.

Brian Yates, Castle Douglas, Kirkcudbrightshire, milks 250 pedigree Holsteins in partnership with his wife Sheila, son Michael and daughter Anna. Surplus heifers are sold for breeding.