Tom Rawson reflects on a year of highs and lows at Bleasby Grange

What a difference three weeks can make – with a low of -16.5C to a high of 12C, calf health is certainly being closely observed.

The grass seems to be greening up and doesn’t look too bad considering the winter we have had so far. As soon as NVZ regulations allow, the plan is to inject slurry into the paddocks with the least cover and hopefully graze by day the paddocks carrying the most.

The first day of April will herald the end of our first year at Bleasby Grange. It’s certainly been a year of highs and lows. Starting a new dairy business in the present climate seems to focus the mind, with every decision made for profit first. The first five years will be the challenge, with many 20-year investments being paid off in the first quarter of the tenancy, such as the parlour, tank and concrete.

This spring will also be a milestone at the farm in Dewsbury, as it is 20 years since my parents made the big jump from farm management to renting their own farm.

Many things have changed in that period – all except the milk price. Our average price this year is exactly the same as mum and dad saw back in 1991.

The only real benefit for us starting today must be milk quota, which I suppose you could roll into milk price. They paid 29.5ppl for 250,000 litres or £73,750; where as we could get total cover for 2,000,000 litres for £6000.

Interestingly enough, my dad earned extra money off-farm doing dairy consultancy as do Oli and I. My parents justified a full-time herdsman at 50 cows, while we have had to get to 300 cows and rising to justify the same.

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