John Helliar

6 November 1998

John Helliar

John Helliar has a 162ha

(400-acre) farm on the

Longleat Estate, near

Warminster, Wilts. He milks

230 cows, rears his own

replacements and grows

40ha (100 acres) of maize,

which comprises 60% of the

winter ration. 1000 store

lambs are put out on winter

grass keep in October for

sale as fat lambs in


WHAT a difference two days make – straight from summer into winter all due to two inches of rain in 36 hours, accompanied by gale force winds. Having kept cows in one night, they went back out the next day only to stand in a group under the hedge and look thoroughly miserable. By midday I felt sorry for them so they did not need much persuasion to come back in and, unfortunately, have not been out since.

This is all very embarrassing because the Paul Bird discussion group were due four days later for a meeting on extended grazing. Unless the weather changes back to a dry period immediately which, if you believe the weather forecast is very unlikely because more gales and rain are expected next week, we will have to accept the inevitable. This means we will shut up 40 acres of dry area in the hope of grazing it in early February. You cant beat nature.

Unfortunately, we still have two fields of maize to harvest, which is a good days work. Although it has not been flattened, it has taken quite a battering, which Im sure will reduce yield and quality.

Ive taken a gamble and bought 600 store lambs so far at an average price of £24. Some are a bit smaller than usual, but now with so much grass about because of herds being housed early, it shouldnt be too much trouble getting them growing. We will wait a few weeks before purchasing any more.

My main bone of contention at the present time is milk quota leasing prices. With the current price of milk, 9p is way over the top. I thought when I paid 7p it was 2p too much. We have also leased some on a three-year deal. Only time will tell if it was the right decision, plus the purchase of 110,000 litres from the farm we have taken over. This gives us just over 1.3m litres. &#42

Taking a gamble… John Helliar has bought 600 store lambs.

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