Farmer Focus Livestock: Tom Rawson prepares to turnout cattle

As January passed and February arrived I noticed the cubicle cows that look out onto the back paddock starting to line up at the fence and make those noises of freedom.

It’s officially the latest turnout date for four seasons, but with an ever increasing number of cows on the farm, caution is certainly driving this year’s first grazing days. We will now start the weekly farm walks with the plate meter, and again this year supply fortnightly grass samples to DairyCo for analysis; the ME and protein of fresh grass never fails to amaze me.

We have taken delivery of 75 organic cows from Kent, a mix of breeds all of which seem to have settled in well, pushing us up to 5200 litres a day of production against a budget of 3000 litres. February is traditionally one of our lowest milk months so this will help the cash flow significantly.

Calving has started with 190 cows and heifers to calve in the next 12 weeks, all but 20 are to the dairy breed so Laura will get to perfect her calf rearing skills before returning to Harper Adams this summer.

Finally father has become a founder member of an exclusive club called “longevity pays”, however it’s nothing to do with cow genetics or welfare. The general picture is each member pays £50 a year, the last man standing (quite literally) claims the total prize fund. Upon coming to terms with the fact Dad is, at this stage, an unlikely winner, he was dropped off at the local pub the other lunchtime for the inaugural meeting with £100 in his back pocket; the sooner you go, the less you’ve paid in. Clever.

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