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
LIKE many of you, we marched for the countryside along with friends and our visiting Nuffield Scholar, Kevin Old, a dairy farmer from New Zealand.
We discussed how, within a generation, we were no longer to be trusted with the stewardship of the countryside. Image, communication and ignorance sprang to mind which were proven by a recent event. The mole catcher making his spring visit duly trapped his quota of moles on our pastures and did as he, his father and grandfather did before him, displaying his success on the fence.
Unfortunately, one such display was within sight of the road and a plastic bag was found hung on the fence containing a note admonishing us for this barbarous act. Tried and found guilty without presenting ones case for control, not extermination, and the animal health problems of soil contaminated silage. The answer, I suppose is to avoid the poor image initially, as post-event justification is invariably futile.
Questioning our modus operandi as for many is part of policy management. To this end we asked Bruce Woodacre (BOCMPauls), a friend and past colleague of Frans, to visit and give his opinion on herd performance and health. Cow and youngstock condition (barring three calves) was good, but the milkers were performing below potential.
Likewise, our NZ guest asked ourselves and our neighbours some searching questions over the kitchen table which were sometimes difficult to answer.
One major change around the corner is the catch crop Italian ryegrass for silage. Maize acres are to be cut back due to stocks held over from last year, and the vegetables which follow half the IRG are now marginally profitable and carry high growing costs and risk factors.
The option for next year is to switch to two-year rotational leys – a smaller acreage than the one cut catch crop IRG but with multiple cuts. This would also give the flexibility of quality grazing for late summer fresh calvers, but we would need to fence and plumb the arable fields and reconsider where and when we spread the FYM, currently put on the IRG aftermath. The Environment Agency app-roves of our policy of no winter application but this would become difficult to maintain. *
Louis Baugh plans to switch from catch crop Italian ryegrass to a two year rotational ley, but will need to fence and plumb arable land first.