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In your field: Ian Garnett - 'We are getting into the clamp and milk production has begun to rise'

Congratulations to fellow columnist Kate Beavan on her New Year Honour. It is great to see her efforts for agriculture being acknowledged in this way.

So much happened to us all last year that you might be right in expecting a quieter year ahead.

 

However, I do wonder with Covid-19 issues far from sorted and Brexit just beginning, there looks to be some challenging times to come.

 

Widely reported early December worries of Christmas turkey sales thankfully evaporated and sales were better than expected, even for the larger than average birds.

 

Brexit seemed somewhat seamless once the deal was done. However, as is often the case, the devil is in the detail or, in our case, it is in the small print.

 

Recent news clips suggest an amnesty of sorts has been in place between the EU and the UK since the new year.

 

Apparently Monday (January 11) was the watershed when paperwork has to be spot on and the ‘nearly right’ ones could be turned back, not waved through.

 

If this is the case, we can probably expect some disruption to supplies of inputs. Likewise, exports could also suffer a tricky time.

 

Combine this with Covid-19 regulations tightening and we may see that some of our EU helpers may start to struggle to get back the UK for work.


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Life within the dairy is often steady at this time of year. Settled diets and routine jobs are good for the cows as well as for us.

 

Jobs for the week include foot trimming, finishing off the new shed and re-organising stocking which should allow us clear vision when planning the new parlour.

 

Lagoons are filling up and we will be glad when the window for spreading opens up.

 

The recent dry weather has allowed us some busy days emptying solid muck stores on to ploughing ground.

 

The new year means planning cropping and the ultimate question for us is what proportion of the diet should be maize.

 

Not always the easiest crop to harvest in this area, it makes me wonder if 30 per cent maize/70 per cent grass suits our production level and weather patterns better.

 

Catchy weather last summer meant some delays in silage making and hence lots of fibre but lacking in production. Excellent milk solids within the milk but, of course, not enough of it.

 

Here at home we are getting into the clamp so starting to access much better silage within the diet and production has begun to rise.

 

Chasing production with concentrate is something we try to avoid.


Litres at any price do not work for our system, as we see this as a critical area for cost control.

 

For those who believe in old wives’ tales, the first two weeks of the year are significant. If the saying is correct, the early January spell of dry weather is an indication of a drier than average year ahead.

 

Our farmer tans could probably do with a boost this year.

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