Steve Morris farms in the
Forest of Bowland, Lancs, in
partnership with his wife
Valerie. Over half of the
190ha (470 acre) LFA farm
is heather fell, with a further
20ha (50 acres) of rough
grazing. It is stocked with
50 dairy cows, 280 Lonk
ewes, 100 half-breds and
40 gimmer hoggs
FOR the first time since we built our clamp in the late 1970s contractors have been hired to do our silaging.
In previous years I have been able to call upon my two younger non-farming brothers to lend a hand at short notice. But, as they have progressed up their respective career ladders – one is an accountant, the other an energy manager – time-off has become more difficult.
So, last year after a second successive year of minor but time-consuming breakdowns, we decided the future lay with hiring professionals.
Due to five weeks of regular showers, interspersed with occasional downpours from mid-May onwards, we found ourselves in a mini heatwave in the second weekend of June. But with soft ground and big crops, it was evident we should have ideally cut it two weeks earlier.
On reflection, hiring contractors was a good move. All our 20ha (50 acres) was clamped in one day with the sheet fixed early the next day, just beating the next downpour.
Another 2.5ha (6 acres) was big-baled for high dry matter silage, to be used while cows are at pasture from early August onwards.
Until this year we were using two forage wagons for silage making. One has now been sold to a farm just five miles down the road, where it will be used for zero grazing.
The same weekend, the compressor unit burnt out on our bulk tank, although I hadnt realised this until part way through Saturday morning milking.
Before washing through was complete, our refrigeration engineers were on site diagnosing terminal failure. The really bad news was yet to come; they couldnt get a replacement unit until Monday morning.
Yes, youve guessed it; three days hot milk down the slurry channel. Because of the soaring air temperature, even the plate cooler made little impression.
When Monday morning eventually arrived, a second-hand compressor in good order was found at a poultry unit near Preston for just £200, less than a third of the price quoted for a smaller new one.
Although infuriating at the time, at least it happened while we were producing only 600 litres a day, due to a large number of dry cows and heifers only just starting to calve. *
Stephen Morriss bulk tank compressor burnt out on the only hot weekend of the year, so three days milk went down the slurry channel.