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
WHAT a wonderful autumn we have had and what a contrast to last years washout.
October was a near perfect month for us – 12.5cm (5in) rain and many warm, dry days.
The net result was a huge flush of autumn grass. The other net result was that the local "old boys" delighted in telling me: "Theres nothing in that wet, autumn rubbish" (polite version). But cows have milked well and we have only just started feeding silage.
One group of stock that has been less content is our in-calf heifers. They are in good condition and we have been trying to use them to graze pasture short before winter.
But heifers prefer to nibble off any fresh growth before scouring the entire hedge line looking for the slightest weakness. They then turn into the bovine equivalent of mountain goats, moving themselves on to the next field, a neighbours garden or the main road. I have tried to explain the movement restrictions to them, but they are having none of it.
Before calving begins in mid-January, the next couple of months will be fairly quiet for us. We have 190 cows to calve next spring and are converting an existing shed into a decent calving facility.
There will be 30 cubicles at one end and one large bedded pen at the other. Each day, any cow that is close to calving will be moved into the bedded pen. Cubicles will be covered with deep sand, which with barley straw at £85/t is a good investment. *
With straw prices so high, sand bedded cubicles will prove a good investment, says Chris Knowles.