Farmer Focus Livestock: Tim Downes enjoys a Nuffield tour

Louise and I joined about 20 Nuffield dairy scholars touring the south downs and visiting successful businesses.

There was a heady mix of debate regarding the merits of high-input Holsteins and reliance on grass as a sole input following a 400-cow unit where no concentrates had been bought for three years.

My fellow FW contributor Mr Slimfast Rawson is also a vociferous advocate of the grass-based system, making for an interesting debate with those accustomed to filling mixer wagons all year.

Lord Rooker has aired his views on the £33bn of spending by the public services on food, of which in some sectors only 64% is home-grown. Rooker is keen to champion our cause and I wish him well with the RABDF role.

We have been concreting to replace seesaw slabs, with Basil on his digger, which will avoid getting contamination in the silage clamp. Herdsman Andy helped to host an AI refresher course then an OMSCo meeting on youngstock rearing assisted by DairyCo.

We have been trialing a demonstrator Aerway machine to alleviate compaction in the permanent pasture and the results look promising for improving drainage. The milking platform has had a dirty water injection leaving green tinged lines throughout the grazing platform, proving the nutrients are being taken up and utilised.

I attended a recent bank meeting where the London Inter Bank Offered Rate [LIBOR] for lending between banks was explained as the measure of trust between banks and a measure of the credit crunch; it is now more important for setting the level of loans than the Bank of England base rate.

There is a long way to go to meet the DEFRA target of moving TB reactors within 10 days, especially as it has taken 69 days for the last one to go in the middle of our short interval test.

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