Farmer Focus: Still making silage as the clocks go back

I am sitting at the table writing this article on the day the clocks change and for the first time ever we are doing fifth cut Lucerne silage on a “winters” day, but amazingly it’s still polo shirt weather!

The tractor and mower are travelling on the ground as if it was June!

While I don’t expect the crops to have the highest feed quality, the stuff is well over knee high and as we have close to 18 degrees and a warm wind, the wilting should go well. We still have grass growing everywhere and the dry cows and in-calf heifers are still out and as happy as Larry!

After a bit of rain earlier this month we managed to get our lagoon emptied to comply with our NVZ rules. For the last few years we have been stirring up the lagoon and spreading the stuff with a dribble bar; however, the last couple of times it has been a challenge to get the stuff to mix properly.

This time we got a Hi Mac and spreaders in from local contractors “Pridays” and they emptied more than half in just under a day. These guys are real pros, they did a brilliant job, made almost no mess and left every gatepost intact, despite their tractors and spreaders being the size of Gloucestershire! We then irrigated as much dirty water as we could and are in good shape for the closed period.

Yesterday was spent prepping as many cattle as we can for winter. A fortnight after housing we clip their backs out, weigh them and give them a dose of wormer, which includes a liver fluke product for the younger ones.

Clipping the spines on everything has a huge effect in making cattle more comfortable and reduces sweating to almost nothing. We do have some liver fluke challenge and find a pour on in the spring and two weeks after housing works really well. The product we use has a 120 day withdrawal period, so the bigger finishing cattle don’t get done, but will have been treated twice already and this system works really well.

As winter draws in I am lucky to be doing a lot of public speaking and have the great honour of chairing the Malvern Farming Conference in a couple of weeks’ time. Two of the speakers are the minister of agriculture and the vice president of the NFU, should be a great night and I look forward to some good clean scrummaging.

Paul Westaway farms in partnership with his wife Kirsty on a 69ha Gloucester County Council farm, running more than 220 Angus and Holstein Cattle. The pair also run an AI business and have recently launched an online steak and wine shop

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