March proves to be an expensive month for Ian Ratcliffe

March is panning out to be an expensive month, with cows, a mower and a scraper tractor all being purchased.

We have a huge area to cover with our scraper and having had cows inside since September we certainly need a reliable one. I have saved some money not having a cab, though I am sure the student will enjoy scraping in the sunshine and I figure it will allow more visibility, which is important when swinging into our many cubicle lines.

Grass growth has been variable and dare I say it we need a good dose of rain to really set it flying. I am a week off finishing my first round, but still only have 84 cows out with the rest housed full-time. I prefer to keep it this way rather than having them all out eating a small amount of grass and ruining pastures. The herd is averaging 24 litres and I keep bringing back the corn to make them work for it now they are all mostly in-calf.

Although I want to be block calving I am ashamed to say we have calved a cow every month of our first year. We are, however, having some success in selling fresh cows and buying back in-calf animals at local dispersals.

On a personal note, we have had an army of helpers tidying the farm and garden for when Cath and I get married in May. We are having the reception at the farm and a band in the silage pit, which has messed up my plans to pull the maize down and put first cut on top. I have soon learnt that these things aren’t important when it comes to planning a wedding.

Farmer focus: Ian Ratcliffe

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