Farmer Focus: Grateful to NHS staff after son’s illness

I usually cut things a bit fine when writing this article, but this month I’m a full week late.

Our son, Rory, was rushed to hospital with what we thought was a sickness bug, but turned out to be a streptococcus infection.

Our sincerest thanks to the doctors and nurses at Crosshouse Hospital for getting him on the road to recovery.

It was a frightening time. I’m indebted to everyone who works here for pulling together to keep things running smoothly.

See also: How a dairy farmer has cut his herd replacement rate to 19%

About the author

Colin Murdoch
Ayrshire farmer and zero grazer Colin Murdoch switched from Holsteins to milking 225 Jerseys in 2019. The 182ha farm grows 40ha of winter and spring barley for a total mixed ration and parlour fed system supplying Graham’s Family Dairy.
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We had a really dry and mild winter up to early February and grass continued to grow.

We’re in the fortunate position of not being in a nitrate vulnerable zone, so we applied about 150,000gal a month of slurry onto grass with an umbilical pipe and dribble bar while conditions were good.

Unfortunately, normal service resumed and the rain gauge is overflowing, so I’ve stopped looking.

Tanks should be full in about three weeks’ time, which ought to work out well for application onto silage ground.

We are also going to try slurry on the winter barley for the first time.

We managed to blitz spring barley stubble with dung, but the weather broke before we could start ploughing.

It’s amazing how many tonnes can be shifted over a couple of days with three rear-discharge spreaders going.

Cows are performing well, with yield at 24.7 litres a day at 6.35% fat and 4.4% protein.

The milk tank is almost full, and we still have 15 heifers to calve this month, so it’s time for a clear-out of passengers.

Hopefully, we can keep this level of production going to take advantage of the milk price. It’s certainly all needed.

We’ve been feeding first- and second-cut silage together in the milk ration all winter, as the first cut was a bit too fizzy on its own.

Second cut has unfortunately run out now, so we’re adding an acid buffer to the blend to stop any acidosis. This appears to be working.

If the weather plays ball, I’m hopeful we’ll start zero-grazing before the end of March. We’ve certainly got plenty of grass, as we’ve stopped taking any sheep over winter – I don’t miss them.