David Cray has a 146ha (360-acre) less favoured area farm near Camelford, north Cornwall. He also rents an extra 16ha (40 acres) on nine-months grass keep. His 120-cow single suckler herd is geared to selling 14-months-old stores. The mainly Hereford x Friesian herd is changing to Angus x Simmental with replacements home-bred using DIY AI. He also runs 250 Beulah ewes and 220 ewe hogg replacements.
IT HAS been a long silage season. As I write this in mid-November at least three of my neighbours are making silage. They have taken advantage of excellent autumn grass growth, although they must have been wondering when the rain was going to stop. We have had over nine inches this month.
At last there seems to be movement on the cull cow front. I entered cows with an abattoir last May but heard nothing from them. Two weeks ago I was getting so frustrated that I entered cows with the local auctioneers and they will be loaded this morning.
There seems to be two factors in this. First, the confusion caused by the registration scheme and the apparent inability of the Intervention board to get the certificates out. Secondly, the abattoirs not calling for cattle in strict order of entry – enough said.
Autumn always seems to bring out a spate of meetings and talks. The next is at a conference on BSE. I am due to speak about the effects of BSE on the beef farmer. The ramifications are so vast that it is a problem to know what to leave out!
The rams are at work and all seems to be going well. It is several years since we have had the ewes in such even, good condition at tupping. Feeding blocks to some of the thinner members of the flock has paid. These are mostly older, highly productive ewes which, for various reasons, were weaned rather late.
Most of the cattle are housed. I have been surprised how long we have been able to keep them out without damaging pastures.
As usual, the calves are being kept away from the cows and put in to suck twice a day. We have had a few calves with tender feet. This only lasts for a couple of days and is probably due to them coming in off very wet, soft ground onto concrete. The next job is to finish the dehorning and to weigh, worm and fluke drench the calves.n
Most of David Crays cattle are now housed, while there has at last been some movement of culls, which were entered with an abattoir in May.