Farmer Focus: Cross country combine squeezes onto our farm

We have finished combining our not-so-vast arable acreage. We had a bit of trouble getting Westoby’s big fancy green combine to the wheat fields.

I discovered a few days before cutting that the road to the rented land is only about 10ft wide and the combine is 11ft 5in.

Luckily a neighbour kindly let me open up the boundary fence into his field and we took it cross-country to get there.

The wheat was still standing and came off well, but the oats were a bit disappointing as they were slightly flat.

See also: Read more from our Livestock Farmer Focus writers

We have some new neighbours as the farm next door has been sold. They plan to farm it in a permaculture, organic and sustainable way, and hope to use it as a demonstration farm to show other farmers in the area how things can be done.

Goat’s cheese sector growth

We had a meeting with our milk buyer, who requires further cuts in production because of a continuing high stock of goat’s curd. Despite this short-term problem, the price is being maintained and the goat’s cheese sector still showed 10% growth this year.

The Milking Goat Association have an open day at Roger Longman’s goat dairy near Shepton Mallet on 28 September to discuss various industry issues. We certainly won’t be encouraging any new entrants into the industry and there are no new milk contracts on offer.

One thing that we will discuss is a future Johnes strategy. Our recent Johnes blood testing showed a lot of false positive results due to the goats being vaccinated at birth.

Some of the blood positive goats were then dung sampled using the more expensive PCR (Polymerase Chain Reaction) test, and these all came back negative for Johnes.

A lot more research and testing needs to be done before a national testing scheme can be introduced. The Milking Goat Association has applied for European funding to do further testing and evaluation.

We were successful in applying for the Welsh Farm Business Grant to fund several small capital items.

We have started autumn hunting in Monmouthshire. There was some nice music in our maize fields one Friday evening.  

Gary and Jess Yeomans run a herd of 700 milking goats across 100ha, which supplies a local cheese factory. They also own a small pedigree Welsh Black suckler herd to graze permanent pasture.