Mike Allwood

6 November 1998




Mike Allwood

Mike Allwood is owner-

occupier of a 82ha

(200-acre) farm near

Nantwich, Cheshire. The

175-cow dairy herd block

calves during May and June.

Mike is also director of Farm

Produce Marketing, based

on the farm, which

manufactures and sells

Orchard Maid frozen yogurt,

and puts packs of Cheshire

milk onto airline breakfast

trays

ITS Oct 23 and we have at least 30 full days of grazing in front of the cows. It is still warm and grass is continuing to grow. Unfortunately, there has been so much rain that we have opened the cubicles at night and most of the cows are choosing to stay inside. They are eating around 4.5kg DM each of maize and big bale silage. If we give them more big bale they leave the maize – which either means that we have good big bale or poor maize – I am sure that it must be the former! For her 27 litres, each cow is being fed concentrates for 16 litres, which means that 11 litres are currently coming from forage.

During the daytime we appear to have enough grass cover to prevent serious poaching. We are picking our way around the driest areas and not grazing too tightly which will mean some paddocks going into the winter with far too much grass. There is much collective head-scratching over what to do about this problem, since we now only have a few dry cows left. One alternative is to do nothing, hope there is not too much winter kill or chickweed growth, then graze as cleanly as soon as possible in the spring. Another is to put on some sheep but I do hate to give good grass away and I dont like fetching them home at the weekend. A final option is either topping or zero grazing when the land dries up again. I am tempted by the path of least resistance, option one.

We have analysed soil samples from the new fields which we bought last month. Levels of P and K are generally good, while one or two pHs are low. This means that we must apply lime soon, as the clover which we will introduce next spring requires a high pH. We have also taken the opportunity to spray Roundup on two fields which were infested with a combination of docks, couch and creeping thistle, before applying for organic conversion in the spring. Having been bitten by the organic bug, I feel that by spraying I have dirtied my hands, but wise heads assured me that we should do it while we had the opportunity. &#42

Wet conditions will stop grazing, but there may be too much grass cover for winter, says Mike Allwood.


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