I would like to start by wishing all the people affected by the recent bad weather and floods all the best, and especially all the farmers it has caused an immeasurable amount of damage and extra work for. It has been a winter to forget for so many.
We are now milking three times a day in the new parlour. It was always a big step for us, because we always said in the old parlour it was never a possibility.
But after milking for four weeks, I can happily say I wouldn’t go back to twice a day.
Staff working hours seem to be working incredibly well. The core of our team were doing 5am-6pm, which is one of the major reasons we installed the new parlour.
Now they are starting at 5am and finishing at 4pm which is giving a much happier and energetic feel about the farm.
Along with the benefits to the team, we have also had the advantage of higher milk production, with milk increasing by 12%, which we are very happy about. So far, there has been no adverse effects to the cows.
We are up to 36.5 litres daily yield now and want to push on to 40 litres in the next few months.
The fell ewes have scanned 10% higher than we have ever had at 151%. In all honesty, this is too high for us, because singles are optimum to go to the fell.
Otherwise twins have to stay in the field for an extra month or so, therefore eating grass that would ideally be for dry cows or heifers.
This is an issue we will have to think about in the coming couple of months.
We have been very impressed with the Highlander shearlings this year. They have outperformed the Swaledales by about 35% at scanning and are still a full condition score ahead of the Swaledales and Cheviots.
Will have to manage this at tupping time in the future. We probably won’t need to flush the Highlanders in the same way as the traditional hill sheep.
Patrick Morris-Eyton is a Farmer Focus writer from Cumbria. Read his biography.