Farmer Focus: You learn from your mistakes in farming

What a year it has been, littered with the usual highs and lows, but I have to say I think it has to be the most challenging of my short farming career.

The “uncontrollables” have thrown a lot at us this year and it has been a real challenge.

This cannot be illustrated any better than by the fact that tomorrow our maize contractor will return (5 December) to try to salvage the final 3-4ha of very sad looking maize.

The river ground has dried out, but it will still be a tractor and chain-towing exercise, especially given the mess we made last month.

Hopefully there will be some feed value to it, but at the very least it will make sowing in the spring a lot easier.

See also: 5 key considerations when feeding minerals to dairy cows

The cows are really starting to pick up in yield terms now, so our changes to the transition diet must have had a positive effect.

The heifers calving in have been a bit shy in milk yield and are taking six weeks to  get up to speed.

I think that we have probably calved them in a bit light, which all stems back to trying to challenge them last winter when we cut back the concentrates they were fed. 

The result has been that with our 23-month average age to first calving, the last 10 to calve have probably been 40kg down in body weight terms, although they still have the stature.

Within six weeks they are up to speed and looking great, but that in reality should be a lot quicker response.  

We have made adjustments further back in the system to rectify that now. A longer transition period for them also seems to be helping.

With this being my last article before Christmas I would like to wish you all a very Happy Christmas and hopefully 2020 will prove to be a very prosperous new year for everyone.

I hope I have not come across as too doom and gloom, but when I look back, I think 2019 will be the year I learnt the most from the things that haven’t quite gone to plan. And surely that can only make you more resilient as a person and as a business?

Onwards and upwards to 2020.


Read more about Shropshire farmer Henry Wilson