Farmer Focus: Relieved to get slurry on lighter land

The French know how to get a point across, don’t they? My social media feed seems to be filled with straw choppers, muck trailers and slurry tankers leaving their mark in Paris.

And who can blame them? The French government appears even more clueless than ours.

But at least Westminster is supporting farmers by way of infrastructure grants (slurry and robotics as well as other investments); the French are blaming the farmers for climate change and environmental issues yet not providing any policies to work with. 

See also: EU backtracks on pesticide reductions in wake of farmer protests

About the author

Tom Hildreth
Livestock Farmer Focus writer Tom Hildreth and family grow grass and maize for the 130-cow herd of genomically tested 11,000-litre Holsteins near York supplying Arla. The Hildreths run a café, ice cream business and milk vending machine on the farm.
Read more articles by Tom Hildreth

A bit closer to home, the nitrate vulnerable zone closed period finished following a rainy day of biblical proportions. 

Like many others, our lagoon was getting close to the top, so I had to get the tanker yoked on and working. We have a few sandy fields I thought would be dry enough.

Well, the top end was, but the bottom end was not. So, thanks to my mate John for coming to my rescue and dragging me out backwards.

Safe to say, I steered clear of the wet half of the field and rang a friendly “lad’s-land” arable farmer to see if he wanted a bit of slurry, so the lagoon is back down to a safe level.

Hopefully it should dry up now and I can get some out onto the early grasses ready for cutting mid-April.

The last of the heifers are confirmed in-calf now, with all due to calve between June and September. We have found our loose interpretation of block calving to favour our business and lifestyle. 

Having all heifers, as well as second and third calvers, born during this period means our labour is concentrated on calf rearing in the warmer months, so growth rates are improved.

The in-calf heifer grazing land is nothing special. The early growth is fine, but by mid-to-late summer, it soon gets eaten down, so the calving pattern suits.

We also had our last cow calve for a couple of months and, other than getting a bit of slurry out or hedge maintenance, we only have routine jobs.

This makes February and March a great time for holidays, so we are making the most of it and heading to Mexico for our honeymoon, and our first “hot weather holiday”.