Farmer Focus Livestock:Clyde Jones finds dry period a challenge

I was warned this was a dry farm and they weren’t kidding. With little rain recently, even the rabbits were kicking up a dust cloud.

The automatic response to a “dry period” is to extend the round, but as the grass is still in reproductive mode, grazing before the heads appear has been challenging. Nearly a quarter of the grazing platform is shut up for silage, which made a 14-day rotation necessary, with mostly 2.25 leaves emerged at grazing.

The mower couldn’t come quick enough, after a false forecast of heavy rain failed to materialise. We ended up with another clamp three-quarters full and equal amounts of local brewers’ grains mixed in. This will provide ample fodder for the autumn calvers later this year.

Although growth is more than 50kg/ha DM, we have now included the aftermaths and some youngstock fields into the rotation. This has reduced our demand from 50kg/ha DM to 40, which should be achievable once the fertilisers have kicked in after the 20mm of rain we had recently. But, for the meantime, we are feeding the cows with fresh brewers’ grains and maize silage to reduce the demand to 30kg/ha DM.

We have a young new vibrant team on the dairy farm: Mark Cash, Scott Delaney and Alex Williams are all in their twenties, extremely consciencous and keen. There is a real “can do” attitude here.

Unfortunately, we couldn’t do the farm open day this year, as it clashed with our own D-Day celebrations. We did have a pre-school visit the other day, which was fun and we soon had the kids mixing feedstuff in a bucket. But I don’t know what possessed me to show them where the horn was on the tractor.

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