Chris Knowles farms in
partnership with his parents
in the West Penwith
Area near St Ives, Cornwall.
The farm consists of 97ha
(240 acres) of grassland and
45ha (110 acres) of rough
moor land, stocked with 160
dairy cows, 80 followers and
50 assorted beef animals
SPRING is certainly in the air in west Cornwall. Although February gave some fairly challenging conditions, March has brought the kind of balmy spring days that you can only dream of on wet, cold winter mornings.
We managed to get a small group of 50 cows out for a few hours each day from Feb 20. We found that cows would graze for about three hours, before coming back to the yard.
This group was joined by the rest of the herd on Mar 4 – when ground conditions had improved. Cows took about four days to settle down to their new routine and by mid March were picking up 6kg DM/head/day between morning and afternoon milkings.
As many would-be ornithologists had told me; starlings would leave in early March. On the morning of the Mar 7, as if by magic, they were gone. Ironically, weve only got another couple of weeks worth of maize silage left.
The starlings will be disappointed to know that we have made a decision not to grow maize this year. Although it is undoubtedly a great feed, the cost and logistics of growing the crop five miles away, and of course the above mentioned feathered menace, made this decision for us.
We had the chance to rent 18ha (45 acres) of grassland next door, so have taken this on instead of growing maize. This land is close enough to walk the cattle to, and will give us flexibility of either cutting or grazing it. There has been no cattle on this ground since last autumn, so we have used our bulling heifers to eat out winter growth before applying some fertiliser.
We have just endured our annual TB test. I was a little concerned before the test because neighbouring farms have had recent breakdowns, so I was relieved when we were given a clear test.
An extra pair of hands when testing is always welcome – this year I ought to thank my mother and father-in-law who helped out. Knowing how busy they both are, I would not normally have asked, but when I found out that they had helped my brother-in-law with his TB test, I thought they wouldnt mind helping me with mine. *
Starlings and cost have forced Chris Knowless hand: He wont be growing maize this year.