Farmer Focus: Summer in the South, but not round here

It has becoming a recurring theme, but the weather continues to be a challenge up here this year. Summer hasn’t actually arrived yet, but I’m ever hopeful of sunshine just around the corner. Apparently, there has been a heatwave down south – that’s the stuff dreams are made of.

It’s amazing how such a small country can have such big regional variations. I suppose we should be thankful we’ve not had as much rain as Sydney.

About the author

Colin Murdoch
Ayrshire farmer and zero grazer Colin Murdoch switched from Holsteins to milking 225 Jerseys in 2019. The 182ha farm grows 40ha of winter and spring barley for a total mixed ration and parlour fed system supplying Graham’s Family Dairy.
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Second-cut silage is ready to be mowed as soon as we get a window of opportunity. At the time of writing, it has been seven weeks since we took the first cut, but regrowth was incredibly slow because we had such a high yield. If we get it cut this week, quality and quantity should be OK. 

There is a massive abundance of clover but, unfortunately, there are also far too many docks. Does anyone have any ideas on how to get rid of them while keeping the clover?  

All our maiden heifers are now outside, running with Jersey or Angus bulls in five groups of 30. 

See also: Guide to soil biology and how to protect it

We served what we hope are the top-end heifers with sexed semen before they were put out to grass. This should give us enough replacements for the future. 

We continue to use sexed semen on the cows for the first two heats, followed by British Blue semen. I’m impressed with the shape of the cross-bred calves so far, and we have had no calving problems.

Harvest of winter barley is only a few weeks away, so we are busy cleaning out sheds that normally house heifers, to tip grain off the combine. We’ve previously treated grain with urea or dried it, but with both of those options significantly up in cost, I’ve yet to decide on the best method. 

It was great to be involved in the Kilmaurs Farmers Society inaugural crop competition last week, and to get a mention for the winter barley, even though it has had far fewer inputs this year. The judges were also amazed that slurry had been applied.

Many thanks to the Miller family for presenting the trophy in memory of the late Jim Miller, past show president, and a very special man.  very special man.