Pest control, I think, should be my next career, as I seem to be getting a fair amount of practice.
This month’s issue has been starlings, which have been helping themselves in the calves’ house. Fortunately in the past we haven’t ever had a problem. So we have been on a steep learning curve trying everything we could to deter them, even trying a radio hoping Jeremy Vine would discourage them.
Sadly, this had the opposite effect. Covering the calves’ troughs with netting has been the only thing that has worked.
On the subject of pests, our Jersey heifers proved to be a challenge in the parlour at first, but they have settled in and are milking satisfactorily. I recently praised the staff when we received our mastitis pathogen test results, which showed everything was negative. This came back to bite me on the bum, because the men thought this warranted a pay rise and only a day later we had a couple of cases of mastitis.
The wet and mild weather is helping the cabbage, but it’s doing nothing to slow up the straw usage or the speed at which the slurry pits are filling. The long-awaited spreading date arrived not a day too soon. With dry weather and the slurry all stirred up, we set to with all guns blazing to ease the pressure. Sadly the only pressure we eased was the air in one of the slurry tanker tyres and our mission came to an abrupt end.
Julian Ellis milks 150 Guernsey cows on 158ha (390 acres) at Lands End, Cornwall, in partnership with his father and two part-time staff. The farm rears followers and store cattle, with 36ha (90 acres) used for growing spring barley, 12ha (30 acres) for spring cabbage and several acres for fodder beat and kale.Read more from our other livestock farmer focus writers