Farmer Focus Livestock: Clear TB test is a relief for Victor Chestnutt

I can breathe a sigh of relief as our herds have just completed their annual TB test with no reactors. We still await results of our brucellosis test, but I feel quite confident.

Hopefully breeding bulls will be a good trade this spring as we have a batch to sell, Charolais, Limousin, British Blue and Angus. This year we have produced them more naturally with a mainly silage diet. The quality of our second-cut silage was good and the condition of the stock backed up the silage analysis.

The droughts and floods of 2008 mean many farmers have not managed to make enough forage for the winter, and silage is already moving throughout the country at prices of about £35-£40/t. Livestock prices will need to be good to justify this.

The announcement that export refunds for dairy produce will be reintroduced will hopefully stabilise things and see a lift in milk prices, which were below cost of production.

Timescale has slipped on finishing the new dairy setup. There was more than I’d anticipated and a lot of thought had to be given to energy saving devices. On the milk-cooling front we installed a large plate cooler with water pumped from an underground tank collected from the roof and the borehole. A heat exchanger, we hope, will pay for itself in two to three years by using the gas that cools the milk to preheat water for the boilers.

The cold weather has helped ground conditions and enabled us to keep ewes on grass a month longer than usual. We hope barer fields in spring will not have too detrimental effect on ewes and lambs at turnout.

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