Grass growth ahead of demand for Robert Craig

Grass growth of 70kg/dm/ha is comfortably ahead of demand and has seen average cover at Cairnhead edging towards 3,000kg/ha in early September, several weeks ahead of target. A small and final area of silage, removed at the beginning of the month, is now reducing the grazing pressure on the young stock block, which should allow their grazing to be extended into November or even December – providing we get some decent warm weather in September and October.

A recent visit to Northern Ireland reminded me how fortunate we are to have free draining soils on both farms. It looks like a very long winter for them, with very few animals out grazing around the Omagh area.

A further 130 in-calf heifers have been delivered to Dolphenby, which will top the numbers up to 550 calving for our second season.

It’s easy to write about climate, so forgive me, but there does seem to be an ever-growing unpredictability in the weather these days. Having just had the coldest August night ever recorded, following the wettest summer for 100 years, we have seen droughts in China, wildfires in Spain and hurricanes in America. Scientists tell us there has been record Arctic ice-melts, which have peaked earlier than ever this year. Adverse weather patterns will continue to have an effect on world commodity markets – only adding to the increased challenge of volatility. The perfect storm has surely begun, as we seem to be only a severe weather event or a poor harvest away from a food crisis.

Robert Craig, 41, farms a 160ha all-grass dairy unit in north-east Cumbria. A passionate grassland farmer, Robert aims to maximise profit while ensuring a balanced and enjoyable life. Robert is also current Cumbria NFU chairman.

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