Farmer Focus: TB reactors strike after seven years clear

Farming has an amazing ability to kick you just where it hurts.

Since my last article we have had the high of using our new dry cow and fresh cow shed for the first time. A fresh cow cubicle shed for 35 cows is something that we looked to do for a long time. It gives us the chance to manage those first 40 days post-calving very closely.

In addition, it has also meant that we have a further loose yard for 10 dry cows/heifers.

Our builder Stan Richards did a great job of delivering the build in record time, even with the weather against us.  

See also: How sharing and renting farm kit can save money

But the excitement of the shed was short-lived with the arrival of the dreaded six-month annual TB test.

We had been clear for seven years and nothing could prepare us for the 10 reactors.

Last time, we lost six when we were milking half the numbers, so percentage-wise it isn’t as bad, and last time we went clear straight away. All we can do is keep our fingers crossed for the next test. 

In the meantime, we have tried to be proactive. I have had a camera put up on the new shed to monitor the open feed barrier for wildlife at night. We are also going to badger-proof both farmyards, which shouldn’t take much doing.  

It takes a close-knit team to deal with the result, but we have all got our heads around it and otherwise, things are looking pretty positive on the farm.

The first application of SingleTop fertiliser followed two weeks after the slurry, and the grass is already responding. We have put a plan together, with an aim to do four or five cuts, with first cut hopefully being taken the last week of April, weather permitting.

This year we will try not to take any of our youngstock forage from our silage ground to ensure that we focus those acres on making top-quality forage.

The youngstock have done brilliantly on haylage and concentrates over the past six months so we will continue with that approach.

Let’s hope we do not get overrun with beef calves. Even if we were to go clear of TB in 120 days, we would still have an additional 80 mouths to feed on the farm.

Read more about Shropshire farmer Henry Wilson

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