FARMER FOCUS: Cows are smug in the straw yard

After enjoying a wonderful Indian summer here in sunny Dymock, winter has arrived in earnest during the past week, with several inches of rain and the wind blowing several trees down.

We have gone from lovely dry fields to mud everywhere, but our supply of firewood is looking better than ever. We housed all the cows and calves and I have to say the smug look on the cows’ faces as they lay in our big straw yards was a joy to behold. We have clipped all the top lines on the calves and gave them their last worming of the year. We find this is a wonderfully simple bit of cow management, yet it really helps drop any pneumonia challenge. I am really pleased with the growth of the calves, particularly the ones born in April and May, and on the whole the cows have come out of the summer in decent nick and are all checked back in calf for next spring.

Winter feed stocks look good in both quantity and quality. Our maize in particular is feeding really well, with no waste at all on the sides or the ramp, which really helps justify my investment in an additive. We analysed it last week, so I look forward to the results. My biggest challenge is having lucerne and red clover at nearly boot height again, which is way too much to leave and is also too much for our tack sheep. I keep hoping for a few dry days so we can make some fifth cut. We made some silage in November last year and it was a hundred times better than I expected and fed really well, even though it looked a bit like seaweed.

By the time you read this I will have chaired the Malvern Farming Conference at Three Counties. We have three high-profile speakers in Peter Kendall, Sean Rickard and Geoff Sansome, and the topic for debate is CAP reform. As I don’t expect the three speakers to agree on anything I have been swotting up on my CAP knowledge and the more I understand it, the more complicated it gets. I only hope after a lively debate farmers like me will understand what will happen and the opportunities and challenges it will present to anyone making a living from farming.

Paul Westaway farms in partnership with his wife Kirsty on a 69ha Gloucester County Council farm, running more than 220 Angus and Holstein Cattle. The pair also run an AI business and have recently launched an online steak and wine shop

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