David Maughan farms with
his brother, Peter, on two
farms totalling 272ha (425
acres) in Co.Durham on the
Raby Estate. The 40ha (100
acres) grass supports an
18-month and a silage beef
system. Cattle for the 18-
month system are reared
from purchased Continental
bull calves, with Continental
bull and heifer calves for the
silage beef system
The farmer will never be happy again
He carries his heart in his boots
For either the rain is destroying his
Or the drought is destroying his roots
You may speak if you like to this
Though I should not attempt to be
And if you insist he will give you a list
Of the reasons hes making no money
IN case this couple of verses may have a topical ring to them it is as well to recall that they were penned 50 years ago together with a further couple of dozen verses, which I shant repeat in case I should be accused of plagiarism.
It sometimes seems that Les Dawsons immortal words "Behind every cloud is another one waiting to arrive", was written with agriculture in mind, but surely we must be somewhere near the bottom.
With those thoughts in mind I put on my NFU hat and joined the EU agricultural ministers on beef export matters as they arrived for their final days discussion within the splendour of Newcastles finest hotel. As a humble foot soldier, my duties involved little more than waving a sandwich board bearing a couple of Germanic phrases, but the reality of the occasion was not lost on most of us there, with the clouds unlikely to begin to lift until the beef ban itself is lifted.
Silage making is about to begin with the usual rush of final preparations. The leys have been knocked by the weather during April. One of the consequences in the second year leys is that they are showing a high level of disease, as high as I can recall; virus disease is very evident this year.
The crops being so sappy and the weather dull it may not prove too easy to obtain a satisfactory fermentation, so we have decided to apply an inoculant to this years silage. There is a good deal of evidence that intake levels are lifted in any case with a good inoculant, so I hope this will lead to improved cattle performance later. We use a specialist grass spreader, which seems to give us much improved control over our wilting. It should prove invaluable on this crop. *
The Maughans are about to start silage making, and this year an inoculant will be used to ensure good fermentation of the grass crop.