Farmer Focus: Welcome boost to dairy cashflow

This time of year is one of my favourites in the farming calendar. Once the 17 March comes, the weather tends to get better, the days get longer and signs of spring finally start to appear.

With calving nearly completed for another year we had one very special delivery on the 7 March. However, not of the bovine type. My wife Lorna gave birth to a baby boy, Andrew Thomas.

As high as a kite on gas and air, Lorna proceeded to tell the midwife that I was well used to the whole procedure with cows calving all the time. I got the feeling they didn’t like the comparison with cows.

See also: More from our other livestock farmer focus writers

The start of some good weather has seen us able to get some in-calf heifers out to grass, which has eased our housing situation.

We have also sold off some excess heifer calves as we are well above the number of replacements needed for the next year. This has given us a welcomed boost in cashflow and again helped allocate extra space.

Current milk prices are still low and seem a long way from recovering fully. My brother recently met a farmer at the local vets who ranted and raved that at 20p/litre or below he was perfectly happy and making a nice profit. Idiots like this should use their brains before they put their mouths in gear. Any increase in milk price not only helps the farmer, but also the wider agri circle and even the local community.

Finally, more haste and less speed would be the motto for recent events. While transferring slurry across the yard I made the decision to drive the tractor and feeder wagon over the pipe. This turned out to be the wrong decision, with a burst occurring and tractor, feeder and yard all getting a good covering.

Richard, our student, got the job of tiding up, to which he replied “I suppose you’ll not mention this mistake in Farmers Weekly”. No one’s perfect.

On the plus side, we get to keep our hands on the Six Nations trophy – there’s always next year England, Scotland and Wales.

 Thomas Steele

Thomas milks 450 Holstein Friesian cows on a 263ha farm in Co Down, Northern Ireland. He was 2012 Farmers Weekly Dairy Farmer of the Year