Farmer focus livestock: Tim Downes wraps up harvest

Our cereal harvest is wrapped up and Dad is expecting a new combine for next year – wishful thinking. However, I have found a suitable replacement at the Lincolnshire Show. I am just struggling to find the old “airstream helmet” that made him look like an Olympic cyclist.

The inclusion of red clover in our clean calf grazing leys occasionally causes frothy bloat – and chasing uncooperative Angus around the field after the evening check is not my idea of fun. We won’t be including it in the under-sown grasses again.

To prevent these problems we are providing roughage in a ring feeder, feeding 0.5kg of our home mix, mowing in front and putting vegetable oil on the water trough surface. The portable handling setup allows drenching and removing any animals exhibiting balloon-like symptoms.

Stubble turnips are in the ground and this year we will graze them with Angus heifers alone as they do better outside and will not get too fat.

Robin from Guernsey has joined us for his Harper Adams placement and has soon become proficient in grain store management. With organic oats coming off at about 2.5t/acre and the wheat slightly less, he has coped with the cleaning and storage around vertical drying pedestals. At 12-15% moisture we will just be conditioning the grain with cooling ambient air. We were grateful to Catrin, his girlfriend, for learning to drive the tractor and move bales.

We have been to see igloos for outdoor calf housing – the 4.4m-diameter and 2m-high moulded plastic domes in Herefordshire looked like aliens had landed. But we were impressed with the system for autumn-born calves and hope to use them in a field situation for the spring borns.

By the time you read this, our tractor driver Simon will be tying the knot with Gina and we wish them well.

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