Farmer Focus: Reflecting on spring calving

It’s the Scottish elections in May and we have another independence party – the Alba Party.

Alex Salmond is a fairly toxic character, but I miss his old Scottish National Party (SNP). The SNP is now very social media led and I can’t stand it.

I’m still holding out for our new currency – the groat. I wonder what cast cows will be worth then – 3,000 groats, maybe? Awesome!

Cows went out day and night at one of the farms, Netherlands, on 15 March, 10 days earlier than last year.

It has gone OK, other than one horrific night of storms. Millands, the other farm, is still growing slowly (18kg/day last week), so cows are still only going out during the day. 

Calving has gone really well this year. We are about 80% calved at the end of six weeks, which is a slight improvement on last year.

Calf health has been good so far. It gets tight in the shed before turnout, so I think we should push mating back a week as we tighten the block to an 85% six-week calved rate and lift numbers to 620 on the spring-calving farm.

Some blood samples showed an energy deficiency in the pre-calvers, so we are continuing to feed a 14 metabolisable energy, 32% crude protein distillers’ product.

We are filling the feed bunker every two to three days, so feed is not heating and affecting intakes.

We also need to add some distillers’ into the heifer wintering diet. They lost condition in the new year when the calves started to grow, so we need to keep energy density in their feed and boost protein for colostrum quality.

The autumn calvers yield wobbled a bit when we moved on to the second-cut pit, which is another good reason to get the planned pit extension done, to allow better mixing of cuts through the winter.

Things are nearly there, and we are aiming to get concrete down in early April.

Next on the list is to try an earlier second cut over a larger area at Purroch to fill the clamps in two shifts and make a better-quality second cut.

This is my last epistle, so thank you for putting up with my inane drivel.

Read more about Ayrshire dairy farmer Wallace Hendrie