Farmer Focus: Curbing milk production is proving a struggle

It feels like we are all in some zombie apocalypse movie with global warming/cooling chucked in. I’ve even had to take my wife for a big Booker social distancing super shop – things have got that bad.

The dry/cold weather has had an impact on growth rates, and we are probably back 15-20% on this time last year.

The heat last week is encouraging more growth now, but I would say the first cut will be less.

See also: Coronavirus: 4 tips for dairy farmers hit by slump in milk demand

We started cutting on 10 May for the autumn herd this year. But we are missing 12ha of reseed we could not get drilled in August last year. As of 11 May there is still no sign of it peeping through the ground.

New mowers have been acquired this year. We’ve moved away from conditioning as we shake out anyway, which reduces the price and power requirement.

Although, as with everything, it has a complicated control box which took me and Number One Son an hour to get it into cut position. We even had to resort to the operator’s manual.

Cows and youngstock have had a dream start, though. Dry feed in front of them every day has had a big impact on milk yields and growth. 

We have had a big struggle to keep our yields back 3% as requested by Muller. We took 5% of cows out of the autumn herd, yet it hasn’t had a massive effect on litres as dry, quality grass never fails to make milk.

We are still feeding more than 2,500 litres of milk to calves every day to use up the excess. I have to say they are looking well, but they will need to be weaned at some point.

Breeding has started in earnest with the heifers. They are on a simple prostaglandin synchronisation. The cows have all been painted up four weeks in advance of mating this year to allow us a week to deal with non-cycling cows before mating starts.

Cull cow prices are starting to climb this week, and I’m wondering what effect we will see on the back of McDonalds drive-through branches reopening down south.

I don’t think Nicola will let us out any time soon.


Read more about Ayrshire dairy farmer Wallace Hendrie

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