Farmer Focus: New calf shed on list of jobs to get done

Spring is finally here. Everything feels so much better now the new season seems to be arriving.

Grass is growing and the fields are turning a deep green as they take up the available nitrogen.

We have managed to apply slurry across all silage fields and a lot of pasture fields over the past month.

We can see a very visible difference between fields, especially on slopes where steeper bits missed slurry, but still got bagged fertiliser.

It’s clear to see, from both colour and grass cover, that growth has been kickstarted a lot faster in the areas that received slurry.

See also: Top tips on direct-drilling for grassland farmers

We have embarked on our first attempt at growing maize. For as long as I can remember, I was always told it was too wet here to grow it for harvest in the back end.

But with the advent of very early varieties and the improvements in drilling under film, we have decided to try it.

We also put our plan together for a new calf shed over the past month. Hopefully, planning permission will be granted soon and we can push on.

Ideally, it will be ready by 1 June – we have a lot of cows calving from mid-June onwards, which we will seriously struggle to manage in the current rearing facilities.

Following my previous update, we have crutched and fluked all the ewes, and vaccinated them against foot-rot.

The singles are back on the fell and the multiples have been running on fields that are now ploughed, ready for maize.

The Highlander ewes are still, on average, a full body condition score ahead of the Swaledales.

They have had no supplementary feed and mediocre pickings for the past three weeks. We have just split them and set-stocked to their lambing fields, which they are enjoying because they now have some spring grass ahead of them.

This week we have been getting very tight for straw. We had it on order to arrive last week, but our merchant was struggling to find it.

Credit to him, though, he has pulled it out of the hat today and we have a load arriving tomorrow, which is when we would have run out.

Don’t ask me what it cost; the thought is too scary.


Patrick Morris-Eyton is a Farmer Focus writer from Cumbria. Read his biography.