Farmer Focus: Paddock grazing increases milk yields

Things have taken a turn for the better since my last article. The weather has dried up nicely and our cows are grazing day and night. Turning them out for the first time is always fun. Watching them charge about the paddock and get all excited never ceases to raise a smile.

This year is the third year we’ve used a plate meter and grazing wedge, and it seems to be paying off. Each paddock is being well grazed and that is showing in the bulk tank, which is close to record-breaking levels for us.

An added bonus is the amount of grass available, which is pleasing. The next job on the list is to get some fertiliser out then some fence posts in the ground to make some more paddocks.

Calving is nearing the end too, which, fingers crossed, will mean things can settle down to normal again soon. The hutches are now full so it will soon be time for one of my not-so-favourite jobs – dehorning. Despite the dehorning crush making life a lot easier it’s still not a lot of fun for man or beast.

With the availability and quality of polled genetics improving all the time, I don’t think it will be too long until we consider going polled here. But I won’t sacrifice our breeding goals to access the polled gene. Until the time that the right bull also happens to be polled then I shall have to carry on dehorning.

Budget 2014 produced a mixed bag for farmers. One bit of good news was the 1p cut in beer tax and this is expected to save the average household £1.30 a year. I doubt somewhat that a young family or retired couple are capable of working their way through 130 pints a year, so it’s believable that the figure is being somewhat enhanced by my fellow Young Farmers.

Having just had our South West Area activities weekend in Newquay, it was great to see packed discos, fantastic entertainment and I was able to catch up with friends. The only downside was that I think I needed another weekend to recover from it all.

Ross Symons farms 200 dairy cows, including his own small herd of pedigree Holsteins, with his parents near Truro, Cornwall. They are converting their year-round calving herd to autumn block calving

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