Farmer Focus: Goat fertility suffers as yield increases

Autumn-kidding goats have been scanned, with average results.

As we have increased the feed rate and milk yield, the goats’ fertility has suffered slightly, with an increasing number of goats showing cloudburst.

This is due to progesterone causing a false pregnancy with just a large fluid sack. It can be treated with estrumate, but affected goats are often repeat offenders.

We have harvested the barley/pea silage with some third-cut red clover.

This is mainly a forage insurance policy in case of a poor maize-growing year.

The oats will need to be combined by the time you read this, as we are hosting a Pandy and Monnowside Ploughing Society ploughing match here on 3 September.

Afterwards, it is best to immediately spend a few hours power harrowing the ploughmen’s carefully crafted plots to prevent long-lasting undulations.

See also: Reducing soil run-off has to be a good thing

Abergavenny Fine Foods, my milk buyer, had a devastating fire in its processing factory last summer.

Fortunately, its dairy plant is in a separate location, so milk collection and processing carried on.

Last week, supplying farmers had a tour of the newly completed factory. We were all very impressed by the scale and level of investment in the plant.

The high standards of hygiene and the huge investment in machinery brought home the difficulty of doing any on-farm processing that fulfill the requirements of today’s supermarkets.

We were told post-Brexit the exchange rate to Australian dollars changed from $2.20 to $1.80 – helping an export deal on British goat’s cheese and making Continental imported cheese more expensive. 

See also: Goat milk market will soon be oversupplied

After many years of making do with a cattle crush nearly as old as me, we ordered a new model of the same make from the Welsh borders.

It features a yoke handle at the back as well as at the head stock, making it easier to use on your own.

We have also added a scoop to help with tagging and bolusing.

Our student Will has moved on to pastures new to further indulge his passion for tractors with another local farmer, who has a much greater machinery addiction than me.

Gary and Jess Yeomans run a herd of 700 milking goats across 100ha, which supplies a local cheese factory. They also own a small pedigree Welsh Black suckler herd to graze permanent pasture.