Farmer Focus Livestock: First cut a success for Tom Rawson

Tom and Catherine Rawson run 300 organic cows on 740 acres with Tom’s parents, Gary and Linda. Farming in Dewsbury since 1991 and processing 20% of their own milk, branded “clever cows”, they supply local shops and cafes. The herd is run on a New Zealand-style system and will expand to 350 cows later this year

I recently spoke at the Young Farmers agm in Blackpool. The last time I was there I ended up copping off with a bird from Huddersfield; seven years later we are married with two kids. It’s reassuring the agm never changes. Unfortunately, neither does Blackpool.

Congratulations are in order to our share-milker Andrew and his wife Clare on the safe arrival of a baby boy. This prompted me to volunteer my services to help out Mike and Tom (whether they wanted help or not). Milking 288 cows twice in 24 hours certainly cured any insomnia problems, but putting 3450 litres in the tank in two hours was a nice feeling.

We put 165 acres of first-cut in the clamp on 8 May. With just a short, sharp shower on it and a strong tail wind, it turned out to be the right decision. Genus sampled the fresh grass as a trailer tipped up resulting in 31% dry matter, 19.8% protein and 3.6% sugars (apparently, this is high; someone is going to translate it into ME). We will now sample the silage regularly over the summer to detect any effect that the additive will, I hope, bring; quality winter forage is a must in organic dairy systems.

The cows are milking well. Last spring’s disaster is behind us, but losing 1000 litres of the herd average has taken a year to recover from. The run-off block with a newly-acquired paddock grazing system is also performing well.

Lastly, I am two stone lighter on my quest to become “Yorkshire’s biggest loser”. Bring on another milkshake.

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