John Helliar

5 December 1997

John Helliar

John Helliar has a 130ha

(320-acre) farm on the

Longleat Estate, near

Warminster, Wilts. He milks

180 cows, rears his own

replacements and grows

45ha (110 acres) of maize,

which comprises 70% of the

winter ration. 1500 store

lambs are put out on winter

grass keep in October for

sale as fat lambs in


This is the last month where Im in sole charge of my farming business.

As of Dec 21 my son David returns from his 18-month round the world farming experience taking in four countries – all totally different. What a wonderful opportunity – I just wish I could have done it 35 years ago. I can tell from his letters that he is itching to get home and put some of his new-found knowledge into practice. His last letter included six pages of his ideas on cow grazing with maps and plans on new track-ways, all in great detail. I just hope I can keep up – I had better forewarn the bank manager.

It is obviously something I have been looking forward to for some time but it will probably be difficult for both of us at first, especially as for the past 40 years the buck has stopped here. At least we will have three months of the winter to sit down and sort out our different roles, along with both our objectives, short- and long-term. Needless to say, they will both be different, but it is a case of sitting down and reaching a balance.

Back to the present. The cows are in night and day. Yield has held steady with the quality back to normal (4.2% fat, 3.4% protein). After the hiccup with the crimped wheat, it will be interesting to see what happens to the herd fertility which has been quite good 10 weeks into our breeding cycle. Scanning has now been carried out from 28 days – so far 64% holding to first service.

We are synchronising the heifers for the second year using Crestar. Last year we had mixed results, splitting the heifers into four groups, one was as low as 45% while another was as high as 70%.

This year the routine has changed. In July we gave the first Leptavoid &#42 injection plus All Trace cattle bolus and a copper injection. So far out of the first two groups 50 heifers have been served, 40 holding to the first service (80%). The last 20 have only just been served – fingers crossed.n

In the future, John Helliar will have to take into account his sons objectives for the farm as well as his own. Itll be tricky at first he admits.

See more