Farmer Focus: Forage stocks look well despite poor wholecrop

It has been a good season for grass growth. The pit is now full in readiness for the winter months and for the cattle to munch their way through.

Despite our best efforts, the wholecrop did not establish well this year, so the bulk of the pit silage is red clover with minimal pea and barley wholecrop layered in.

We rely heavily on our grass to finish stock as efficiently as possible, so it is indicative to enhance soil status. We have invested heavily in improving soil health since taking on the farm.

See also: How to manage soil and grassland for an early turnout

Soil is tested regularly and we aim to improve a quarter of the farmland pH indices each year by liming. Our land is naturally acidic so we aim to bring levels up to their optimum pH.

Visually, you can see the difference an application of lime makes and the yields and grass quality speak for themselves. Pig and cattle muck play an important role in our rotation too.

This was our first year growing fodder beet on farm and we are really impressed with how the crop is looking. We applied 7.4t/ha (3t/acre) of lime alongside plenty of muck and nitrogen, phosphate and potassium with boron.

As a marine crop (likes coastal environments), we applied an application of salt to create the most suitable growing conditions possible, in order to produce a high-yielding crop with high feed values.

Hopefully it won’t get too wet before the harvester gets here.

The ewes are out on flushing ground and looking well, although lameness does seem to be an issue this autumn.

Lambs at home on rape crops are taking longer to finish, due to the amount of rainfall in September.

So many of us discuss the weather, but it really does dictate our business decisions.

We had a ‘family day out’ last Saturday to a store cattle sale (lucky me). Some families come home with souvenirs or a suntan but not us.    

We came home with a few heifers, which were destined for the fattening pen. However, my sensitive side outweighed the practical side and they are now happily out with the Limousin bull.

Read more about Monmouthshire livestock farmer Livy Braid