Farmer Focus: Indian summer is a huge boost!

It’s a cold fresh morning in sunny Dymock, but if the last couple of weeks are anything to go by it will be beautiful later. This “Indian summer” is a massive boost for us.

All the pedigree cattle are still out and ankle-deep in grass. We are creep feeding the bull calves as I’m well aware that grass quality this September isn’t perfect, but the cows are milking so well we have left the heifer calves alone and they are still growing like weeds, which is great.

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We scanned all the cows and in-calf heifers last week with very pleasing results. Only three re-checks, everything else was PD positive. We AI just about everything once, then let the bulls sweep up.

Around 70% of the cows are in calf to AI with the other 30% being pregnant to the bulls, so we will have a very nice selection of calves next spring. The bulls will come out this week as I want to finish calving by 30 June at the latest.

The great weather has also allowed us to get well ahead with our autumn fieldwork. We cut our maize last week and the crop was amazing. According to our contractor’s space-age forager we got 51t/ha at 38% DM, which is perfect for us.

The cobs were like iron and the plants had died back so it was perfect, and harvest two weeks earlier than normal. I treated and covered it with cling film for the first time as I am keen to maximise as much energy and dry matter as possible, before putting on the traditional sheets.

As we are early we also managed to Roundup (glyphosate) the field and give it a five-day break before ripping it up to plant some Italian ryegrass and white clover mix ready for next year. We made one of the best seed-beds ever so I am hopeful for some great cuts off this field in 2015.

The weather has also been very kind to our farm walks, in the last week we have had visitors from Brazil and Canada, plus a group of trainee bank managers. There is no better sight on this earth than Angus cattle grazing in the autumn sunshine, and this year’s calves look a real picture after such a grass-friendly summer!

The Brazilian and Canadian visitors showed great interest in our genetics and I am sure we will be doing more business with them soon. I also hope the young bank managers loved the place as one of them could be my bank manager one day and be keen to lend me some money…

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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