Farmer Focus: Warm weather allows Dale Whalley to put cows outside

This spring I managed to sow the first nitrogen on the brown grazing fields by mid March, which haven’t looked so poor for years. Up to the time of writing we had no recordable rain in March.

At least the ground conditions have allowed us to spread slurry, which often don’t get an application until they have been mown for first cut. Reseeds and silage fields need rolling but will have to wait until some rain.

Dry weather does make life easier and conditions have allowed us to have the dry cows outside for a month on a small field with 24-hour access to a TMR mix. By making mature, low protein silage last summer we haven’t included any straw in the dry cow mix this winter. This has not only saved money but saved time as we haven’t had to leave the mixer wagon running for 10 minutes to chop a mix which often included 250kg of straw.

Spring makes you realise just how many badgers are living on the farm; fields near setts look like they’ve been ploughed. My concern is whether they are healthy TB free badgers as we are due our two yearly test soon.

A nearby farm recently had a cow slaughtered as a reactor, luckily there were no lesions in the lungs, but the cow had been on the farm for at least five years. If we fail our test, how do we ever eradicate the disease with at least three active badger setts on the farm.

Hopefully before the test I’m going to Germany to select 35 fresh calved heifers, this will cover our replacement needs for the next six months. They will cost slightly more than pregnant Dutch heifers but at least I will see some income immediately.

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