Archive Article: 2000/11/03

3 November 2000

Andrew Groom

Andrew Groom has managed

Purlieus Farm near Swindon,

Wilts, on contract since

1991. The 138ha (342-acre)

farm, owned by P&A

Crocker, is stocked with

200 dairy cows with

replacements reared on a

separate 26ha (65-acre)

farm. His interests include

whole-crop cereals and

cross-breeding cows using

a Brown Swiss bull

WE managed to cut our 19ha (48 acres) of maize during the first week of October, just before the monsoon season began, and with just over 900t clamped I am reasonably happy.

Of the two varieties we grew, the Renard cob was just about perfect to harvest and the Lincoln about two days behind. For both, the plant was a lot greener than usual, but as you grow it for the cob I decided to cut it.

I will drop Lincoln next season as it has become a little outclassed. Im pretty impressed by some Soldier grown by a neighbour. I will also have to reconsider our spray choice as one first-year field, despite being sprayed with atrazine and bromoxynil, was full of nightshade which caused me some sleepless nights.

The major problem for maize growers has to be birds feeding on the open clamp face and it is the same with whole-crop wheat. Ive tried most things including a plastic owl which worked for a year or so until one morning I found two crows chatting it up.

Bird scarers seem most effective but are noisy and expensive. However, since cutting the whole-crop a solution has moved into the neighbourhood. It comes in the form of a pair of nesting buzzards – there is no better site than a pile of black feathers and I just hope the crow cleansing continues.

I housed the last group of milking cows in the third week of October. Yields have held up nicely in both the high and low groups and we seem to be meeting our target of one litre a cow a day increase. Vet clinic days are nearly all PDs and with Giles help this season submission rates have improved.

With Express agreeing to pay 2p a litre more from October I am conscious that all of us in the life boat can see the shore. But there is a strong current and the water is shark infested, so we must all do some more rowing to achieve the 3p that the market could pay. &#42

At last, a solution to the scourge of birds at the clamp face… Nesting buzzards are doing the trick for Andrew Groom at Purlieus Farm.

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