Farmer Focus: Hoping the geese leave and the pubs open

Calving has started in earnest. The biggest day so far has been 16 calves. Heifers are calving first. One or two large bull calves were difficult to deliver, but the heifers are popping out fine – isn’t sexed semen a joy?

We are using magnesium oxide and some magnesium chloride this year to help prevent milk fever on all dry cows. Bloods have been taken of various cows to check mineral, energy and protein levels.

See also: Pros and cons of 5 close-up dry cow feeding options

These showed up a shortage of iodine and protein, so we will add a distillers’ product (32% crude protein, 14% metabolisable energy) and more mineral to pre-calver rations to improve colostrum quality. 

Calf sheds are filling up and calves are moving from groups of three to groups of 12  at about five to 10 days old. Horn buds are dealt with then, too.

The prilled lime is all on now, so the whole farm is now up at 6.5pH. Next is a 100kg application of calcium ammonium nitrate.

Geese are always a pest on the grazing platform at this time of year and can take down covers rapidly, no matter how much we discourage them.

Grazing should be possible after the recent wet weather, but we may need to make a few extra gateways.

We are looking to extend the autumn herd’s silage clamp in the next month. This will allow us to get all first and second cuts in the clamp to make life easier when both filling and emptying. It should also reduce wastage, as the small pit is harder to roll the sides in.

The first son has also taken on the contract to build a silage packer with train carriage wheels. It will need a hefty frame to cope with the weight and strain.

We have all been working on communication over the past month with Kim Stafford of U&I Learning. A WhatsApp group has appeared, and more structured meetings have become part of the routine.

I can’t believe the country has to endure another two months of lockdown. All this cycling, tennis and walking is doing my head in, and the fact I can’t go to the pub is doing my wife’s head in. I’m seriously wondering if there will be any pubs left after this.

Read more about Ayrshire dairy farmer Wallace Hendrie