Christian Fox milks 270
autumn calving cows plus
followers and manages
146ha (360 acres) at
Crouchlands Farm near
Billingshurst in West
Sussex. The system is
geared to profit and lower
production costs, so grazed
grass and grass silage are
the main feeds. Average
yield is 5600 litres
LIKE the rest of the UK, Sussex has been "Dambustingly" wet over the last month. The vast quantity of silage we smugly thought we would carry over for next winter is rapidly disappearing, but we are the lucky ones. One neighbouring farmer is having to cart silage from one farm to another. Others are having to buy in extra feed. Thank goodness drying weather is here again.
We are carrying a lot of grass on the farm, the average cover is 2350kg DM/ha and it will be a real test of our grazing management to get high intakes whilst maintaining quality. We will obviously take out the longest paddocks for silage, but one has to balance the area taken out with the growth rate, to ensure there is enough grass ahead of the cows at all times.
Lots of grass is a nicer problem to cope with than trying to manage a spring with no grass due to winter defoliation – but Im trying to go at least one month without mentioning sheep.
We have a number of management techniques at our disposal. We can put the cows over each paddock first to cream off the best grass then follow-up with youngstock to tidy up the residue whilst the cows are having their next feed. On the paddocks over say, 2500kg DM/ha, we might go in with the mower, cut and wilt the grass for 24 hours before offering it to the cows.
With all this moisture we have focused on foot care. The main arterial track leading to the grazing block has been reprofiled and resurfaced, using free road planings. Our Genus foot trimmer Simon Harrow has spent several days on the farm carrying out remedial work to keep the herd in shape for the season ahead. The rest of the cows will be routinely checked and trimmed as needed when we start drying off in July. *
Remedial foot trimming coupled with maintaining the main arterial cow track have been key tasks for Christian Fox this month.