Farmer Focus: Beaten last year’s silage crop at a canter

What a difference a year makes. The last week of June and first two weeks in July are when a lot of farmers in Orkney make their silage, and the weather has been mixed this year.

I bale my silage, which spreads the whole operation out, but it also spreads the risk.

I haven’t seen any effluent, although the silage will be a lot wetter than last year.

I had almost 200 bales last year, and when I cut the first fields, I soon realised I wasn’t going to have space for them all.

A neighbour bought 10ha of grass and we have still made more than in 2018.

See also: How to improve crude protein levels in silage

For the past few years, myself and Lorraine have been organising a summer trip somewhere out of Orkney.

This has taken us to several corners of Scotland.

Last year, we ventured south of the border and this year we returned to Northern Ireland, where I enjoyed some of the best Nuffield Scholarship visits.

We visited eight farms over the four days we were there. The weather was very kind to us and the people even more so.

We saw several top-quality pedigree herds and flocks and visited two outstanding suckler producers, who certainly gave us plenty to think about.

When a father and two sons are making a living off 72ha of grass, it has certainly given me plenty to think about in how I need to improve what I’m doing at home.

Since coming home, the main job has been working with the cows and calves.

The calves receive a pour-on and I split them up into groups of 10.

As autumn sets in and the ground gets wetter, I feel they make less mess and are more content if they are in smaller groups.

I have also been working with a couple of calves, hoping to enter them in our local show, but since the one has decided to impersonate a horse at the Grand National, I have unfortunately decided to give it a miss this year.

All three children are hoping to show some sheep, so I will let you know how they got on next month.


Steven Sandison farms Simmental and Salers cattle on Orkney, read his bio