Peter Wastenage, in partnership with his parents, farms a 300-acre farm tenanted from Clinton Devon Estates. He milks 175 cows, rears his own replacements and grows 100 acres of maize
THE first application of nitrogen is now complete and turnout will follow as soon as this persistent rain stops. Urea was applied at the rate of 40 units/acre on the Italian and earlier ryegrass swards on Jan 20. The remaining permanent pasture was then spread on Feb 10. Since this date rain has been experienced daily to varying degrees.
Last years reseeds are the poorest I have ever known. They did not germinate for three weeks due to the extended drought and then the hard weather over the Christmas and New Year period made them look dreadful. They appear to be fairly well-established now, except for four acres next to a wood which has suffered extensive rabbit damage and will probably have to be ploughed up.
Last month I mentioned maize provided all of our silage. I will now have to contradict myself. Big bales are cut from surplus grass from the grazing area in times of peak grass growth. Although big bales are more expensive to produce, we like them for three reasons: Small areas can be made with less hassle, feeding can take place at varying rates with no deterioration at the pit face and finally we have no spare clamp space.
The cows are continuing to milk well with a Milkminder average of 22.3 litres/day for last month on our all year round calving pattern. The yield from forage was 13 litres with a feed rate of 0.22kg/litre.
We were forecast to only just reach quota, and rather than increase concentrate use we decided to add two big bales of grass silage to the cows ration with the aim of increasing butterfat content and milk price a litre. This has increased our butterfat to 4.36% and is likely to make us 2.7% over quota – a position Im fairly happy with at the moment.
However, Im not sure if using the big bales has made very good financial sense. The protein content for the previous two months was 3.63% and 3.70%, but dropped to 3.43% last month – it all seemed a good idea at the time!
Apart form the routine jobs of feeding and milking, the time has predominantly been taken up with a parlour alteration. Another eight units are being added to the existing 12. This will speed up milking and hopefully get us finished a little earlier at night.n
Peter Wastenages cows are now on big bale grass silage to increase butterfat content and milk price a litre because hes forecast to only just reach quota.