Farmer Focus: Brexit makes dairying decision look wise

I sit down to write this article having just finished yet another remote sensing inspection with the ministry. I have been told this will be followed by a cross-compliance inspection next week.

All this comes after the remote sensing we had last year, shortly followed by an ear tag and passport inspection. There was a time when these would have put the fear of God into me, but they now feel almost normal.

Ironically, it was our reliance on income from CAP payments that was one of the major factors for choosing to convert to dairy, and now in a Brexit world, it seems more justified than ever. 

See also: Grass Watch: Wet weather leads to housing in some areas

I can’t see direct payments as we know them lasting much longer. I hope that any future changes are done in a way that removes barriers to new entrants, eliminates non-farmer claimants and promotes efficient, sustainable and modern farming.

Grazing challenges

Grass-wise, we were grazing too much area a day in mid-October, so we supplemented grazing with about 3kg DM of silage. 

This not only slowed our round length down as hoped, but almost brought the cows to a halt too. For the next week, getting cows into the parlour for milking and back to grazing was hell. Thankfully, normal service has resumed, to the relief of all involved. 

We aim to keep milking times as short as possible and the time cows are away from grazing to a minimum. We do this by running two herds for most of the time, and through simple, efficient milking routines.

We aim for cups on at 5am and to be all washed down and cows locked away at 8am.

Heifer work done

The team have worked hard on the heifers over the past few weeks, with everything being bolused, dosed and moved to their wintering homes.

This is something that has been made much simpler and cheaper now we no longer have to test animals before moving them within a low-risk area in Wales. 

All the heifers look fantastic. Now all the R2 (in-calf heifers) are branded and ready to join the herds, calving feels as if it’s only around the corner.

Johnjo Roberts converted his family’s 250ha beef and sheep farm on Anglesey to an 800-head spring-block calving dairy in 2014. Maximising grazed grass and good milk solids are priorities.