Julian Ellis would struggle without fertiliser and sfp

The single farm payment and the first of our fertiliser arrived just before Christmas – great timing I thought. Then I realised how sad it is that these two inputs have become an important part of our business and how difficult it would be to wean ourselves off them.

Last year I tried to use a wind-driven birdscarer for the cabbage, as I thought it would be less noisy and possibly cheaper to run than gas birdscarers. Sadly, my efforts were in vain, as after only 24 hours of our moderate sea breezes, my whizzabout had whizzed across the field, broken into several pieces, where it is now providing shelter for a small number of earthworms.

Cows are milking about average and milk quality is good at more than 5.5 % butterfat. I seem to be spending more time behind the cow at the moment, with an increase in cases of metritis and one or two difficult calvings. The vet made me feel better when he informed me he is washing out many more cows, and our recent scanning results were very good considering vets are seeing a number of Schmallenberg cases causing embryo loss.

A newsletter from our local farm business adviser stating health and safety inspectors are doing the rounds and now charge £125/hour for their time spent on farm to deal with any issues has prompted me to tidy up a few PTO guards and fence the slurry pit.

Julian Ellis milks 150 Guernsey cows on 158ha at Lands End, Cornwall, in partnership with his father and two part-time staff. The farm rears followers and store cattle, with 36ha used for growing spring barley, 12ha for spring cabbage and several hectares for fodder beat and kale.

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