Farmer Focus Livestock: Clyde Jones says rain’s come at right time

Did somebody order the rain? In many respects it couldn’t have come at a better time.

The grass has just about stopped seeding and we’d stopped getting twitchy about fertiliser. Then suddenly we had growth rates in the 100s and a desperate need to make round-bale silage, with the number going up with every soggy day.

I mustn’t grumble, as our arable manager is pulling his hair out. Our average cover is 2540 on the remaining 88ha, whether I can include mushrooms in the DM calculation I cannot confirm. But grazing isn’t great, with residuals far from the target of 1500. Cows are collecting into mobs during the day, but at least flies aren’t a problem.

We’ve tried some Soya hulls in the parlour blend, which has resulted in a 0.4% increase in butterfat, this means we get a butterfat bonus. Milk and solid yields have remained at 20 litres and 1.33 kg m/s, respectively, having cows still calving helps.

We are sowing turnip seed for over-winter, direct drilling into stubble after putting winter barley straw bales aside. We have to be flexible so we don’t provide a sanctuary for driven game birds.

This autumn 124 dry cows will calve down in the water meadows. We have cut more than 60ha of hay, mostly consisting of the “weed” meadow sweet. The cows seem to graze around this plant without eating any and we have hundreds of bales in stock. I bet it’s a good carrier of important trace elements appertaining to good cow health.

Bulls have been taken out after 13 weeks of mating. Both sets of bulls, cows and heifers were mixed with some hesitation, but they all got on well and in some cases a little too well.

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