Farmer Focus: Veganuary – a strange alliance of vegans and processors

It’s still a bit dark up here, but unseasonably mild at 10C – a bit weird.

The time has come to batter slurry on the grading paddocks when the weather is good. We have been taking in digestate to help boost phosphate and potassium without the need for artificial fertiliser, which should be well washed in by March.

It’s all fairly quiet. There is still not too much action with the calving about to kick off.

See also: 5 practical ways to lift milk from forage

Foot-bathing, rotavirus, BVD and leptospirosis vaccinations are the big jobs at the minute.

We switched to once-a-day milking at Christmas on the main herd, so cell count has been a bit of an issue to keep in its place. However, the lads are doing a great job.

I’m looking to do a bit of work now to get the cow tracks and gateways up to speed and sort out the holes and low bits of track. We may need to concrete a wee bit to keep it right.

The autumn unit is now doing 23.5 litres a cow a day, so we are cutting back feed accordingly.

We have discovered that cutting feed for our cows, rather than pushing for yield, tends to leave more money in our back pockets.

Silage was a bit wet this year at 23%, so bicarbonate was required. Strangely, the fodder beet we tried only reduced yield – the large slug of sugar probably exacerbated the acidosis. Thankfully we didn’t grow any this year.

Veganuary is with us again and we are seeing a strange alliance of vegan campaigners and food processors.

This has led to more adverts for veggie burgers as big business cottons on to the fact that it can make more margin from the veggie option.

Everyone is conveniently missing the fact that the grass livestock farmers manage is consuming the carbon dioxide produced by the cow.

This has not yet dampened the demand for beef, as prices have risen 30p/kg since Christmas as demand outstrips supply.

The issue we face is what effect the marketing of vegan product will have on people’s eating habits over the longer term. Hopefully, at the end of the day, they just taste crap. That will ultimately be the deciding factor.

Read more about Ayrshire dairy farmer Wallace Hendrie