Farmer Focus: Home-made slurry attachment gets adjusted

The unusually dry February gave me an opportunity to significantly drop the slurry levels.

Half of the main silage grasses and most of the grazing grasses have had a 10,000-litre load to the acre.

Meanwhile, the pre-maize grass leys have had two slurry applications at one load an acre and been topped up with 45kg/acre of 34.4% ammonium nitrate fertiliser.

See also: NFU Conference 2023: Applications open for productivity and slurry grants

About the author

Tom Hildreth
Livestock Farmer Focus writer Tom Hildreth and family grow grass and maize for the 130-cow herd of genomically tested 11,000-litre Holsteins near York supplying Arla. The Hildreths run a café, ice cream business and milk vending machine on the farm.
Read more articles by Tom Hildreth

I’ll hold off until the third or fourth week of March for the rest of the fertiliser spreading.

Early spring slurry was applied with a splash plate – possibly for the last time – before we get the dribble bar out of storage.

The trailing shoe adds too much weight and takes too much pulling when the land is a bit tender in places.

Our MkI slurry pipe attacher worked well for a dozen loads, but it soon became apparent it needed redesigning to maintain rigidity and strength over long-term use.

So, back to the workshop for another two days, and MkII came out stronger and more refined (150 loads later and it’s working as well as it did the first load).

Another adaptation I made was running all four factory-fitted and two retrofitted hydraulic requirements off one electrically controlled spool block.

This means only a pressure hose, a return and brakes need to be plugged into the tractor instead of countless hoses, which makes the machine simpler to use, but also easier to attach and detach.

I haven’t seen the lagoon so empty this side of second cut before. Hopefully, we get most of the spring rain in March and early April so silage-making and maize cultivations aren’t disrupted. Not much to ask for, I know.

As we slowly move to a summer-calving herd, we had our first month with no calvings in February. It was almost a novelty having activity in the calving shed after a good month without.

It’s a shame to say that she held on to her cleansing. I’m big believer in any problems at calving have a name attached to the problem. In this case, it’s my name, as I feed the dry cows.

Having recalibrated the scales, I found I was under-feeding mineral and magnesium chloride. Only time will tell if that is the root of the problem.