How the fodder stores have changed in three weeks. Throughout the first half of the year there have been significant concerns about tonnages of crops grown from grass all the way through to arable crops, largely as a result of difficult weather conditions.
Grass growth measurements here in Cheshire seem to have recovered from when I last wrote in the first week of June. Then they were at 20kg dry matter (DM)/hectare (8kg DM/acre) and thankfully are now closer to 80kg DM/ha (32kg DM/acre).
Rainfall in the second and third weeks of June allayed many of our fears. On top of that, arable crops locally look like the rain arrived just in time.
There has been a flurry of second cut silages made in the county, likewise hay-making too. Looking around the area, there is still a quantity of silage still to come in, although it is looking remarkably green for this time of year.
Some local first cut aftermaths only appeared to start growing after the rains in the first week of June. I wonder if the delayed growth of these second cut crops may mean outstanding crops may not be as low in protein and energy as could be expected for this time of year.
I remember a local retired farmer told me once to look at the crop not just the calendar.
Jobs on-farm in the past few weeks have included worming youngstock with pour-ons, catching up with activity collars within the milking herd, laying sleeper tracks and giving the go ahead to a local building company to construct a new shed.
We have moved away from bolusing for worming, primarily due to cost, although I am mindful with an all-year-round calving herd, that good record-keeping is essential to ensure no groups get missed.
Activity collars were a significant investment and we have found them very useful, particularly in spotting oestrus and overall they have been a worthy outlay for us.
To maximise access to grazing, we have invested over the years in the purchase of concrete sleepers to create cow tracks. From a cow lameness perspective, they are very good and their integrity compared to hardcore tracks is of benefit to us here in an area with high rainfall and clay soils.
As part of our sustainability plan, we will be building a new shed this autumn to help us expand our herd. It is great to have such positive news for the team, which, like the whole country, has experienced some huge uncertainties and fears with Covid-19.
It is heartening to read the following announcement by a major UK supermarket: “We promise we will never sell any product which does not meet our own [UK] high standards. This promise is regardless of the outcome of any trade deal. It is our promise to you. It is our promise to our farmers. It is our promise to the nation.”
Let’s hope other retailers, large and small, all follow suit.