Richard Charmley

24 October 1997

Richard Charmley

Richard Charmley is a tenant on a 73ha (180-acre) dairy

unit at Ightfield near Whitchurch in Shropshire which

supports 130 Holstein Friesian cows.

EVERY fortnight we have our regular vet visit; Den arrives at 8am and then stops for a bit of bacon with us.

On his last call a lot of the PDs put forward failed to be in calf. After the fourth cow, Den looked at me and said: "Looks like a miserable breakfast."

He reckons the cows have been short of energy this summer. We had not buffer fed any silage, after listening to the advice of a New Zealand grass consultant. Den thought that had been a bad move, a disaster waiting to happen on the fertility front.

We started feeding silage on Oct 2, splitting the cows into high and low yielders. The lows are running out in the day and have access to third cut, while the highs are in full time on first cut. Milk yield has stopped dropping, and in fact has gone up by 50 litres a day.

But the first cut has made the muck loose. Until we have the maize in the clamp – which looks like being on Oct 15 – we will mix some barley straw with the silage.

Bodfari is dropping its price along with everybody else. The sting is that by Jan 1998, cell counts will have to be under 175, Bactoscans under 30. With our Bactoscans currently running at 50, and cell counts at 200, urgent action is needed. So far we have fitted a hyperchloride rinse to the auto tank washer.

Den seems to think the problem lies within the parlour, and after a quick calculation he thought our liners should be changed after 80 days. Our present milking liner life is 160 days. We put new liners in that day, and what a difference – much quieter milking. So it looks like we will have to change them every 80 days, which is good news for our dairy supplier.

We have finally reseeded the last 10 acres. We sow the seed ourselves using a Tasker fertiliser spinner, mixing 1 acre grass seed (1kg) to 100kg fertiliser, going over the field twice, applying 50kg each time. The problem this year is that in an attempt to save money I used some old fertiliser which was a bit damp and kept blocking the spinner. The solution was persuading my jet lagged father – having just arrived back from holiday – to ride in the back of the spinner to poke the mix through.n

A shortage of energy during the summer meant some of Richard Charmleys cows were not in calf when the vet PDd them at the last visit.

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