FARMER FOCUS: Crops needs a drink

The 2013 weather continues to be a challenge. After a wet year and cold spring we are now in the middle of a mini-drought with grazing fields burning up and crops in desperate need of a drink. On the plus side, our maize is amazing and probably the best crop we have ever grown, at already over 6ft. On the negative side our second crop of lucerne and grass was well down in yields, about 30%, so I hope the weather forecast of rain and thunder are accurate so we can get a decent third cut to catch up.

We had the stress and worry of our annual TB test last week and thank god it was all clear. This is my least favourite week of the year as we have invested heavily in genetics and the shadow of TB hangs over us all the time. Apparently, during this week my wife tells me I change from happy husband to a miserable and unfriendly man. I have decided to make it one of my missions in life to do whatever I can to get vaccination in cattle sorted as I am fed up with excuses and waffle.

We have just starting installing new Bateman sand cubicles in a couple of sheds. I am so impressed with the new cubicle design and how easy sand is to use. We are installing cubicles for our spring calving Angus cows and heifers and our older Holstein bulls. With the high price of straw, I think the new cubicles will pay for themselves within two winters and our Holstein breeding bulls will be cubicle trained for our customers. We are lucky to have a sand pit just a couple of miles up the road and long term I am concerned about supply of straw with so many other industries pulling on arable land or straw itself.

By the time you read this article we will have been on a big adventure with two cows Prona and Portia to the Angus National Show in Perth. It’s a long way, but a gang of us are going and Prona looks even better than she did when she won the Burke Trophy.

Paul Westaway farms in partnership with his wife Kirsty on a 69ha Gloucester County Council farm, running more than 220 Angus and Holstein Cattle. The pair also run an AI business and have recently launched an online steak and wine shop

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