Farmer Focus: Danish Red heifers doing well

In the past week we have been hit with all manner on the weather front. Just as we got rid of floods and hurricane-force winds, we were struck with snow and ice. Good for slurry, but bad for all other jobs – not to mention farmers’ tempers.

To make matters worse, the house phone line is down and mobile reception is intermittent so it is very frustrating. But peaceful. (Apologies to anyone trying to contact me.)

See also: Read more from our Livestock Farmer Focus writers 

Scanning has continued to progress well with fortnightly visits. We are now looking at more cows 60 days post-calving, initially to catch those not seen bulling, but it also means that all cows are checked on further health issues such as whites (endometritis) and retained cleansings.

Statistics for the last two weeks in December and the first two weeks in January are as follows: 25 cows scanned, 17 positive and five negative. 

We have had a further four more Danish Red heifers calve in December – eight in total – and they are settling in well, averaging 24.2kg.

The first four heifers that calved in September have milk quality averaging 4.96% fat and 3.52% protein. I’m very pleased so far.

Our daughter got a set of future-predicting cards for Christmas. They said to look for signs. Not long after my fortune was read by my 14-year-old, I went on the Prince’s Dairy Initiative benchmarking course. I have to say prior to the meeting I was extremely sceptical. 

The workshop was facilitated by DairyCo extension officer Tony Hoile and hosted by Anderson Consulting. The results were enlightening to say the least.

It has highlighted to me in a major way that, since the demise of Dairy Farmers of Britain and the collapse of many gold top products, the price gap between liquid and manufacturing contracts does not justify the better quality milk produced. 

The low price received for British Blue-cross calves and cull cows is now of a significant concern, to the point where the signs are I should look to progress the numbers of Danish Reds in the herd and decrease the number of Jerseys. 

Adrian Harrison

Adrian Harrison farms 81ha in partnership with his father Maurice in Wensleydale, Yorkshire. He runs 130 pedigree Jersey cows with 70 followers.