Farmer Focus Livestock: Tim Downes wants a four day week for cows

It’s difficult starting a new year without some optimism and at the recent Pasture to Profit Conference the positive vibes were just about reaching the surface. One of the speakers, a New Zealand vet, explained the virtues of a grazing system in relation to lameness, with many of the problems associated with walking long distances and wearing the sole to below 4mm.

The implications of the credit crunch are showing, with the local ready-mix suppliers keen to do business as the building trade slumps. This may mean some of the concrete can be replaced, possibly before we host our OMSCo farm walk.

Congratulations to those who have received the SFP. The ramifications of having our fields satellite mapped is now becoming clear, with the farm having to be re-run through the entire computer system from 2005, according to our caseworker. This has delayed any progress and we have had numerous letters detailing changes of as little as a hundredth of a hectare. At least we will have accurate maps to plan with.

With many manufacturing industries opting for a four day week, we are thinking of telling the cows it could be an option.

Plans for the forthcoming year involve keeping an eye on costs and improving animal health – particularly preventing pneumonia in calves. I would be interested to hear any information on controlling Mycoplasma Bovis in calves, which is proving difficult to control.

We are focusing on improving farm tracks, fertility and increasing milk from forage. One of the largest threats to our business is the supply of local feed and we will be conscious of where the small amount of protein feed for calves and early lactation cows is sourced from.

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