Farmer Focus: Lessons learned after milk powder disappointment

Last month we were getting more nervous by the day about the lack of moisture and therefore lack of available forage for both grazing and cropping. Since then, fortunately, we’ve had rain. 

We’ve managed to harvest our winter wheat wholecrop, which yielded reasonably well. We’re happy because it was drilled in the torrential rain in November and then has had drought conditions this year.

We also managed to get a light third cut of silage. It averaged only 7.4t/ha, but the quality looks good and has reset it for fourth cut. Fourth cut is flying now – we had daily rain for two and a half weeks up until early August.

See also: Farmer Focus: Feed price has me sweating

This month saw us try a different milk powder for the calves that a few people have recommended, but it hasn’t worked for us at all.

We got halfway through the pallet, but are having to return to our previous powder because growth rates dropped very quickly from 0.95kg/day to 0.75kg/day.

We’ve tried different calves on higher and lower concentrations but to no avail. Calf health doesn’t seem as good either. We’ve noticed more cases of nutritional scour and they are taking longer to clear up, so a return to the powder that seems to perform best for us is imminent, as soon as the order arrives.

Narrowly dodging a feed bill

The sheep finally have a bit of grass. The rain couldn’t have come at a better time – just three days before we were going to buy concentrate in to start feeding lambs. 

Luckily we held off and the lambs are now growing well on grass, although struggling a little with lack of trace elements in the grass due to sudden growth and uptake of water.

This led to a disappointing draw of lambs because they didn’t quite have the finish we would want. They have been dosed with a custom-made trace element drench specific to us here at Beckside. We look forward to seeing the results in the coming weeks.