John Glover currently milks
65 cows plus followers on a
40ha (100-acre) county
council holding near
having recently moved from
another 20ha (51-acre)
county council farm
WE MANAGED to get away for a few days at the end of March. Perhaps we dont realise how much we need a break until we take one, apparently even farmers wives need a break too.
I was finding it hard to switch off from farming even when I was away from the farm (I can remember thinking about ways to reduce the overdraft during a Jimmy Nail concert), and a break at this time of year is something to look forward to as it breaks up the routine of winter housing and turnout, which may not come until the end of April.
We have gone away in early spring for the last four years now, and last year this was the only holiday we had as we were very busy with the move. We also need to employ someone to do the milking and look after the farm in our absence, so a holiday can quickly become very expensive. So, relaxed and refreshed, we can tackle the next job in hand – silage making.
We all know how to make good silage. We are told often enough by companies trying to sell us additives, but something went wrong last year. We made some very wet silage, cut too soon after a spell of rain, which produced dry matters, as low as 17% on some tests, and low sugars.
The other problem was the "additive" chickweed which was spread on pastures. This led to a butyric fermentation in some areas of the clamp. It is noticeable that the cows drop in yield as they reach one of these patches so that the importance of the quality of forage is brought home to us.
We have used most of the silage we made last year and reached the silage left by the previous tenant. From the smell of it and the analysis, it has a butyric fermentation and is not suited to high yielding dairy cows. It is also unstable and will not keep well. It looks as though we must use this silage for the youngstock this summer to empty the clamp as quickly as possible and store this years grass silage in an Ag-bag. Although this will be expensive, we should have a high quality forage for the cows and the extra milk it produces should offset the cost. *
Most of last years silage has gone but now John Glover must use the butyric silage left by the previous tenant, and Ag-bag his first cut.