Farmer Focus: Snow revealed resilience of rural people

The Beast from the East has thankfully relinquished its grip on us. We managed to keep the cows grazing throughout, but keeping the water running was near impossible for a while.

The cold caught us somewhat unawares to start off with. It started with the parlour freezing up and then we needed extra wind protection in the calf sheds.

However, we must count ourselves lucky, with minimal losses and the tanker drivers doing an amazing job getting to the farm each day. Events of the past couple of weeks are a reminder of what an amazing industry we are lucky to be a part of. The resilience of farming families, the people employed in farming and our supply chains is incredible.  

See also: Livestock farmers battle the elements as snow takes its toll

The efforts to care for stock, clear roads, help the public and carry on whatever the weather is unrelenting, and a public good that we must continue to shout about.

It is times such as these that show how fragile our food supply chains are and how a thriving domestic agricultural industry is vital. I am extremely grateful to our team for their extraordinary efforts during this calving season.

At the time of writing we are more than 65% done and there have been some long days, with the best of them resulting in 49 cows calving and a 10pm finish with pizza and a beer in the pub.   

Cows are calving down with relative ease now, having had some quite large calves early on.

Cleansings are excellent and cell counts are good, so it’s a case of keeping our wits about us through to the end.  

Cows are going straight to grass after calving, and we have managed to stick to our target of grazing 30% of the farm in February.

Regrowth was picking up nicely before the cold snap, but the forecast looks good, so fingers crossed growth kicks off again soon. 

Johnjo Roberts converted his family’s 250ha beef and sheep farm on Anglesey to an 800-head spring-block calving dairy in 2014. Maximising grazed grass and good milk solids are priorities.