Farmer Focus: Toby Ansdell

NO SOONER had I written last month’s article than the weather dried up and the cows were back on grass and have remained there. With D-Day – dry-off day – fast approaching they are ticking along at 12 litres a day.

We have received our first milk cheque from Torridge Vale. With 19.9p/litre paid into my bank, my choice to see out my notice period with Glanbia seems to be right when I see what else is happening to other milk prices in this area.

I write this in the middle of a TB test. The current trend in this area is to go six months clear before having more reactors. Let’s hope I buck that trend, but I am not holding out much hope because my stock have been out on badger-infested pastures all summer. At least a summer out of restriction has enabled me to destock in readiness for winter.

The beauty of running cows the way I do is that during December we can concentrate all our efforts on our retail business. This is at its busiest in the run-up to turkey season.

Anyone who thinks running a dairy herd is stressful should try making sure the right size joint or turkey turns up at the right house for Christmas dinner. We wouldn’t do it if we didn’t enjoy it, and the whole buzz of the Christmas season makes the hard work worthwhile.

Drier weather came just right for tupping our second bunch of ewes, so here’s hoping for a compact lambing. After a busy two weeks, ram activity seems to have tailed off.

This year, we have gone back to putting our ewe lambs to the ram. With no subsidy to collect, I feel they have justify their keep. Also, with our ability to purchase better rams every year, I felt by not lambing them they got too big as two-tooths. Something I have learned from keeping cows is that having bigger breeding stock can decrease profit rather than increase it. Merry Christmas.