Farmer Focus: Calving pattern should allow Christmas rest

Christmas here involves the bare minimum for everyone. We milk, feed, muck out and check all stock.

Generally, one team milks the morning of Christmas and another the afternoon.

This year, we are having my dad’s side of the family for Christmas Day. We alternate each year which side of the family we spend Christmas Day with.

We have just 10 more cows to calve before Christmas. The aim is to have a 10-day break from calving over Christmas to take the pressure off, with no new calves to get going on the teat or feed colostrum to.

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Calving will be due to start again on 5 January, which means we also get New Year’s Day with no fresh calves (in theory).

We are still making tweaks to the new system to make it simple for everyone. Today has helped, because our new 5m folding scraper from Storth arrived.

This reduces our time scraping in the new cubicle shed from 35 to 15 minutes.

The roller shutter doors are also finally being fitted. This will improve the milking environment for the operator massively.

The cows are looking well and putting on some flesh. We did a complete reset to the ration, and we have finished our second-cut silage, which wasn’t as good as we would have liked.

We are now into 2018’s first-cut silage, which has considerably higher protein levels and is drier as well.

The fell ewes are tupping well. Hopefully, there will be plenty of lambs come scanning time in February.

We have had a bit less grass about this year, because the fourth cut was 10 days later than we had planned and then we never applied any fertiliser.

We also had 20ha that could not be grazed since cutting, because we had removed fences or widened gates for the dairy development.

These are now fenced and the ewes are very happy to see a fresh bite of grass.

We wish everyone a merry Christmas and happy new year from the team here at Beckside.

Patrick Morris-Eyton is a Farmer Focus writer from Cumbria. Read his biography.