Archive Article: 2000/11/03

3 November 2000

Stephen Brandon

Stephen Brandon farms

100ha (250 acres) at New

Buildings Farm, Stafford,

with another 30ha (73

acres) of grazing taken

annually. He has 170

pedigree Holstein Friesians

and 110 replacements.

Recently he took on a

contract farming agreement

involving a further 160 cows

on 80ha (200 acres)

WET weather on the contract unit has brought forward the opening of the silage clamps, three weeks earlier than planned. We still have large amounts of grass available for grazing but until the tracks improve, access is proving very difficult. The new track we put in this spring gives us access to a field of new seeds sown in July but unless we have a drier spell of weather it is still a little soft under foot, although it is generally a dry field.

Grazing continues back at home. We have just sold 18 barren cows to ease the tight stocking but I think we shall probably have to open the silage clamp by the middle of October as grass cover starts to get low.

Two days in south Wales earlier this month with nine members of the Poachers discussion group has proved to be stimulating. We visited four dairy farms to look at different aspects of dairying and business management.

The first farm was to look at a new low cost high throughput parlour, the second was to see the management of a large 500-cow unit. The third was a unit some of us had visited two and a half years ago expanding to 300 cows next spring and the fourth was to see a new parlour and stand-off pad under construction.

All the dairy units were grass based and extremely interesting to look at and hear the thoughts for the future. Without exception they were all looking at expansion, either more cows on the home unit or possibly taking on another unit. Two farms were totally grass based, not feeding any concentrates to milking cows.

Despite the difficult times with low milk prices these four businesses were moving forward, the low cost simple systems were being run efficiently with a low labour requirement.

All four farms were fortunate to have track making materials on-farm, making track cheap to construct for good access in all weather conditions. It will be interesting to hear how the stand-off pad performs in the next few years. The site had been well chosen for its shelter and southerly aspect.

There might be a lot of doom and gloom in the industry at present but eight farmers and one consultant came home with a tremendous buzz! &#42

A way ahead? A recent discussion group trip to south Wales has given Stephen Brandon plenty to think about.

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