Farmer Focus: Favourite cows offer joy in a bleak year

It certainly feels like winter has arrived. Thankfully, we were able to lift half of the fodder beet crop before it became too wet underfoot, and the roof over the new silage pit was finished just in time to house the maize.

Winter wheat is germinating behind the maize now as it was too late for us to sow grass. The wheat straw will be valuable to us next year, particularly if prices remain as high as at present.

We had hoped for a dry autumn to prolong the grazing period for the cattle. However, most of the stores are now in and it’s looking inevitable the cows will be heading in any day if this rain persists.

Fortunately, we have ample stocks of winter fodder for the cattle this year. A welcome change.

See also: How outwintering cut suckler farm costs to 243p/kg

This year’s calves are now weaned and indoors, enjoying a ration of maize and grass silage.

We usually sell the majority as stores at 9-10 months of age and keep back a handful of the strongest heifers for ourselves.

Last year was the first year we kept the bull calves entire and these sold well, so it is likely we will do the same this time around. Saves a vet call-out charge too.

I have recently bought some weaned blue heifer calves as a winter project. Half arrived a few weeks ago, with the rest to arrive shortly.

My plan is to keep some as replacement heifers, as I am hopeful they should grow into strong cows. Josh doesn’t know this yet. He would rather expand the Luing herd with some hardier-bred cows that don’t eat so much, but I’m a sucker for a blue.

It’s all about balance, right? They will make good use of the surplus fodder too and hopefully not use too much straw.

I also think it is so important that we remember why we farm, what with the presence of Covid-19 still very much engulfing our daily newsfeed and lifestyle choices. We need to focus on what is important and what makes us happy.

We need to try to find some enjoyment at these dark times, no matter how big or small.