Archive Article: 1998/05/08

8 May 1998




Miles Saunders

Miles Saunders farms in

partnership with his parents

on an organic, mixed 370ha

(915-acre) farm in

Oxfordshire. Main

enterprises are 200 milking

cows and followers, 190

Mule ewes, 50 beef cross

stores, and arable crops

Miles Saunders farms in

partnership with his parents

on an organic, mixed 370ha

(915-acre) farm in

Oxfordshire. Main

enterprises are 200 milking

cows and followers, 190

Mule ewes, 50 beef cross

stores, and arable crops

IT IS now nearly the end of April. All the stock, except for the sheep, havent seen a fresh blade of grass as yet, and with the forecast it seems that they will have to wait a while longer. Silage stocks are still okay, and as I wrote last time I still envisage having a large carry-over of silage, hence why we increased the spring wheat acreage.

It seems ironic that the dairy discussion group that I belong to is about to commence on its spring tour to southern Ireland to study extended grazing practices. My initial thoughts are that it is just

IT IS now nearly the end of April. All the stock, except for the sheep, havent seen a fresh blade of grass as yet, and with the forecast it seems that they will have to wait a while longer. Silage stocks are still okay, and as I wrote last time I still envisage having a large carry-over of silage, hence why we increased the spring wheat acreage.

It seems ironic that the dairy discussion group that I belong to is about to commence on its spring tour to southern Ireland to study extended grazing practices. My initial thoughts are that it is just not possible to get cattle out any earlier than we do, as the heavy clay soil is a limiting factor. I will probably be made to think about this, these tours usually prompt ideas and suggestions you can use back home.

This year we have tried to improve our conception rate to first service in the dairy herd. We have managed an improvement from 50% last year to 65% this year. The main thing we changed was giving the cows 60 days from calving before first service, to try to get through the energy gap in the early part of the lactation. The calving index is not as good as it could be, now at 382 days compared with 375 days last year. As long as the cows keep milking through the extra days at the end of the lactation there should not be any financial penalty, as cows are dried off on due to calve dates, not days since calving.

The savings that have been made since the adoption of this policy are in terms of less wasted expensive bull semen, and lower costs related in trying to get the cows in calf quicker.

The last main batch of beef cattle are off to the abattoir this week. Their growth rates have been pleasing, averaging 1.1kg/day on a ration of grass/clover silage, and 2kg of a concentrate mix consisting of organic oats, organic barley and linseed expeller. With the beef cattle coming from a Holstein cow, I will only get a few R grades, the rest should fall into the O+ category. The beef cattle are all Simmental crosses, from a bull that we reared ourselves, having originally bought two Simmental cows, and a Simmental bull to run as a sweeper for the dairy. This last load of beef animals going out clears out all animals on red CIDs. &#42

Except for sheep, all Miles Saunders livestock is still housed, but hes looking forward to a discussion group trip to Ireland.


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