Steve Brown attempts to turn the cows out again

Despite wracking my brains, I am struggling to find much to smile about events during recent months. First-cut silage was delayed until June, and we cut all the grassland, having not turned any cows out in the wet conditions. We tried grazing for a few weeks, and eventually admitted defeat and brought the cows back indoors.

It is now early August, and we have just repeated the scenario by taking a second cut and turning the cows out again, although conditions are currently quite favourable; we have had three full days with only the odd light shower.

The delay in first cut gave us more silage than we had in total last year, so no artificial fertiliser was applied post-cutting. Instead, the cash was redirected to extend the concrete to give us somewhere to put the second cut.

Via the umbilical, and my neighbour allowing us access, we applied slurry to our other land a mile away, with a marked improvement on second cut yield on the fields he covered and those with none applied. This is a regime we intend to pursue in the future, so hopefully the aforementioned neighbour didn’t notice our heifers attempting to return home via his field of barley, through a gate inadvertently left open.

Cows on the cull list are being sold quicker than planned; the base ration to complement the moderate silage is dearer than we would like. We have made little use of “cheap” grazing, so once their yield drops off it’s down the road to make a contribution to the depleted funds in the bank.

Steve Brown farms 200ha (500 acres) in County Durham, in partnership with his parents. The family’s 200-cow herd is run at Hopper House, with replacements on grass at a separate unit.

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