Farmer Focus Livestock: Calving begins for Clyde Jones

Well, it’s been a challenging winter so far. A blanket of snow is always a nuisance to us grazing types snow weighs down the strip grazing wire leading to jubilant, rampaging cows.

Dry cows are still out on fodder beet and balage. Pre-calving cows are being kept out on grass in nearby paddocks, so I don’t have too far to stumble for the night-time check. They have a fresh break of grass at first light and a top up of silage mix and minerals in the afternoon. The objective is to direct calving towards daytime hours, to reduce my night-time fumblings to a minimum. But, cows being cows, they start queuing at 11am in the gateways.

Calving has been good so far, with 25 calved by Valentine’s Day and some of the bought-in heifers calving well.

Meanwhile the autumn calvers, still in the shed, are producing 24 litres each. But having recently signed a new milk contract with a butterfat bonus, the constituent has refused to budge beyond 3.9 % after extra straw and additional sugar beet in the feed.

Upon investigation, the variable-speed milk pump wasn’t doing what it said on the packet, but the new one seems to be sending a constant supply of milk to the vat during milking. This should reduce the need for excessive agitation, therefore increasing butterfats. Well, we hope so anyway.

We have continued with our battle against digital dermatitis with twice-weekly footbaths in, alternately, copper sulphate or hypochlorite, as well as regular foot trimming.

It seems spring is on its way, as the other day I heard the “drumming” of the local greater spotted woodpecker.

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