Farmer Focus Livestock: Julian Ellis benefits from Nuffield scholarship

I have just returned from the first part of my Nuffield scholarship – attending a biodynamic conference in Switzerland and then visiting a couple of farms.

The visit was useful, learning more about my subject and making a lot of useful contacts.

The farms may have been smaller, but they seemed to have a good standard of living. This may be partly due to their supportive government, with one farm of 13ha picking up a similar single farm payment to ours.

I was also impressed with their public transport. This was highlighted when I returned to London to be faced with a delayed train, which then took even longer to get to Penzance due to a mechanical fault. Finally, by the time the six-hour journey was over, I had had enough of unnecessary mobile phone calls around me and the train looked like a tornado had been through it leaving behind a trail of rubbish.

Dad and the extra help seemed to have coped well, as unfortunately they had to deal with a loader tractor that blew its turbo and a bunch of heifers that started to calve just before I came back.

We have started cutting cabbage again. Yields aren’t great, but I have been slightly encouraged to learn we are not the only ones struggling to keep the pigeons away.

There is no change on the TB front with another reactor from the last test. However, keeping the store cattle separate has been beneficial as they have now gone clear. We were not looking forward to testing these on the other farm with no handling facilities. A mobile crush, available from our farm business centre, made things easier and more importantly kept the shouting to a minimum.

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