Peter Wastenage, in
partnership with his parents,
farms a 121ha (300-acre)
farm tenanted from Clinton
Devon Estates. He milks 175
cows, rears his own
replacements and grows
40ha (100 acres) of maize
KALE was finally finished at the end of March, with the last 10 acres being block grazed, a sort of set-stocking, due to staff retaliation.
We have just had possibly the worst three weeks of the winter with persistent rain and wind. On wet days cows have been going out to graze for about three hours then returning to the buildings, on dry days they stay out until milking time. Some night paddocks where it has rained heavily while being grazed have been soaked quite badly. It will be interesting to see how they recover. In the autumn I never worry too much about that, but at this time of the year it does concern me a little.
Cows and heifers – a total of 109 – have been AId by black-and-white bulls in three weeks before the beef bulls go into the herd. I am quite pleased with this number of services as we are just changing from an all-year-round calving pattern. It will be interesting to see what the conception rates are like after the recent bad weather. I hope not too bad, as several cows have lost up to six weeks, previously calving in late November and December.
Ground is worked down ready for maize drilling. With luck, by the time this is printed it will be planted. Last year conditions were dry and comments such as "drill deep to reach the moisture" were being heard; if that is the case we will have to broadcast it this year.
Calf rearing has proved a real headache in the past month with scouring. Calves are reared on nurse cows and there are normally few problems with this easy system. But, with calf boxes being occupied all winter, problems have built up regardless of how well we steam clean and disinfect, resulting in the death of two young calves. The 10 cows and 39 calves have now been turned out into a paddock with creep feed and look exceptionally well. Next year as cows calve down heifers will be batched up on nurse cows and turned out at seven to 10 days old, the only trouble being they soon get wild not being handled. *
Peter Wastenage hopes to have maize drilled by now, with ground already worked down for sowing.