John Glover currently milks
65 cows plus followers on a
40ha (100-acre) county
council holding near
having recently moved from
another 20ha (51-acre)
county council farm
IT has been a busy month. We harvested our maize in the week beginning Oct 4 and the cobs were surprisingly hard, even though it was still green.
We grew five acres of Sophy as a trial against Aviso and Melody, which we usually grow. The company supplying Sophy agreed to test all three varieties for starch prior to harvest, which they duly did.
I have had some results by phone – the rep is saving the full details as an excuse to visit. Aviso had the highest starch level, closely followed by Melody with Sophy much lower.
This follows, as Sophy flowered 10 days later than the other two varieties – even though it was drilled at the same time. I thought, at the time, that it was due to a growth check following spraying with Bromotril P.
Sophy had the greenest canopy at harvest but had smaller cobs which had not filled with as many grains as the two other varieties. We counted trailer loads out of each field, so that we would have an idea of yield for each variety. However, all three yielded the same with two loads an acre taken off in a 12t trailer.
We also grew maize on seven acres of marginal ground and bought a standing crop. I estimate average yield at about 18t an acre.
The weather was showery during maize harvesting, with one day lost completely. As every cloud has a silver lining, this allowed contractors to do some groundwork and stone the site ready for our new building. This has allowed foundations to be put in ahead of schedule.
On another note, why do things go wrong when you want to go out? There have been two meetings this month which I had intended to go to. On the first occasion, the milk pump motor burnt out – which I didnt mind too much as it was second-hand. We replaced it with a new one and finished milking at about 9.30pm. The second time, the new milk pump went wrong and, after trying to mend it by swearing at it, I called an engineer. He changed a seal and had it working in 30 minutes, so I even got to the meeting. *
John Martin farms in
partnership with his parents
on the Ards Peninsula 15
miles south of Belfast. The
65ha (160-acre) Gordonall
Farm and 16ha (40 acres) of
rented land carry 400 Suffolk
x Cheviot ewes, a small flock
of Suffolks and 40 spring
calving sucklers. About 20ha
(50 acres) of barley is grown
for feed and for sale
I HAVE to admit, here and now, that Im guilty of attempted rape – as anyone who has seen my crop will agree. Despite what I said a couple of months ago about good germination, my forage rape now looks patchy.
I reckon using a heavy roller, followed by unseasonal rain in August and September, has caused some waterlogging and prevented plant development. It may mean we will have to depend more on silage for ewes and lambs than I would have wished.
Rams were put with March lambers on Oct 15 after the teasers had a run for 14 days. Hopefully, this will keep lambing tight and well finish by mid-April. By lambing early and late batches of ewes, we reduce the number of rams required and also make use of this years homebred Suffolk ram lambs. There is nothing like a bit of youthful competition to keep the old boys active.
Also, for the first time we purchased a Beltex shearling ram to use on ewe lambs because they are reputed to lamb more easily. We only put ewe lambs over 45kg bodyweight with the ram. Current work at the Northern Ireland Agricultural Research Institute shows that milk yield and lamb growth is greater when the mother is above this weight at tupping.
We have vaccinated all our ewes and rams against foot-rot. Quite topical given the report in farmers weekly a couple of weeks ago. I understand, from people who used it last year, that it is well worth the expense.
Lamb numbers are down to about 90, and with good grass and a little rolled barley these will soon be finished. Prices are depressed, despite sterlings value easing, as last week we received £1.76/kg dead-weight for top grades. This brought butchers lambs in at about £39, because he wants heavier weights, compared to £33 for the excess sold to the meat plant.
Our calves were all weaned in mid-October, after injecting them with ivermectin and a shot of long- acting alamycin to help them get over the stress. They were housed on deep straw, while their mothers had to make do with slats.
Cows were treated with dry cow tubes, white drench and a pour-on to keep costs down. They will be fed mainly on straw to help dry them off after weaning. By the time you read this, hopefully, the calves will have quietened down and our neighbours will have uninterrupted sleep. *
Louis Baugh and his wife
farm 186ha (460 acres) at
Neatishead Hall and 91ha
(225 acres) at Beech Farm
near Norwich in Norfolk.
About 100 autumn calving
Holstein Friesian cows and
followers are grazed on
Broads ESA marshes with
forage from Italian ryegrass
OVER the last month we have gradually housed the remaining youngstock and dry cows as our grazing marshes have begun to poach and to meet the ESA grazing deadline.
Our high yielding cow group is finally on a full winter ration, following maize harvest and the delivery of Probeet. We have been pleasantly surprised with how well cows have settled onto the maintenance plus 28 litre ration, which with parlour concentrate increases dry matter intakes to average 26.5kg/cow a day.
The first batch of bulling heifers have all had first services by Storm, Shark and Miklin to natural heats. The remaining 10 heifers were selected as potential recipients for embryo transfer.
Fortunately, our VG86, 11,000kg donor cow obligingly produced seven grade one embryos and one grade two embryo, all of which were immediately implanted. Now we are keeping everything crossed hoping in 18-21 days the recipients dont come bulling!
We visited the Holstein Friesian Society, Young Members Association, Calf Show on Oct 11.
The Norfolk team was led by mature handler Jeremy Dain and included two of our young showmen. The team of 12 had designed and built a new stand for this years show and were awarded first place for presentation and took second places for promotion and tidy lines classes.
I was pleased their efforts had been recognised, even more impressive was the way the team organised and conducted themselves. Years of involvement with YMA had given them the confidence and ability to perform at this level with minimal of adult input. However, although competition was serious, it was obviously fun as well. Certain team members acquired new names over the weekend notably Scrumpy Long.
Back on the farm, our milk production is running below prediction mainly due to the sale of July calving heifers. We are now considering how to progress from here. The leasing value of milk quota as a seller certainly seems very attractive at the moment.
Rumour has it locally that I have taken social interaction of my youngstock to extremes. Today I was spotted by our neighbours being driven down the road in the boot of the old saloon Volvo with a calf in my lap. She had been born prematurely on a distant marsh and with no other transport available she travelled first class back to the farm. *
Kevin Daniel has a mixed
lowland holding near
Launceston, Cornwall. The
65ha (160 acres) farm and
20ha (50 acres) of rented
ground supports 70
Simmental cross suckler
cows, 380 Border Leicester
cross Suffolk ewes and has
28ha (70 acres) of arable
AFTER an abundance of grazing during September, grass growth came to a sudden standstill following two or three frosty nights in mid-October. Then several days heavy rain forced us to house cattle three weeks earlier than I would have liked.
With a delayed turnout, be-cause of the wet April, cattle have grazed for less than six months instead of the usual seven. Fortunately, an abundance of silage should last the extended winter.
Early housing may be a blessing in disguise, allowing us to extend the grazing area for ewes. Sheep have been stocked tighter than I wanted through October for a number of reasons. Firstly, we are carrying more lambs than normal. It seems our lambs, along with everyone elses, are slow to finish.
Dry matter intake is to blame, with lambs just not able to eat enough wet grass to sustain a reasonable growth rate. Some people have started offering creep feed to finish lambs, but I am reluctant to start feeding when finished prices are so low. With stubble turnips almost ready for grazing, I hope these will provide a boost to lamb growth rate.
Any lambs remaining after turnips are finished will be housed and finished on ad-lib concentrate. Hopefully, a lift in price will offset concentrate costs later in the year.
Secondly, wet weather in September delayed drilling of 22 acres of grass seeds until Sept 21 – three weeks later than planned. Establishment has been hampered by a huge population of slugs – which needed two applications of slug pellets. It is unlikely that we shall get any grazing from this area until next spring.
Thirdly, an increase in the arable area this autumn has seen 27 acres of grass ploughed for wheat, instead of the usual 20 acres.
As last year, we have sold a few suckled calves at local sales to ease winter housing and help cashflow. Calves were sold two weeks earlier than last year, which accounts for part of the lower sale weights – a miserable summer is blamed for the rest (see table). Steers have held their own, with just a 7p/kg drop, but heifer prices have taken a knock – 25p/kg down. *
Comparison between 1997 and 1998 sales
kg £/head p/kg kg £/head p/kg
Steers 377 474 125 348 412 118
Heifers 319 256 80 305 168 55