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In your field: Jon Stanley - 'Calving is still in full swing and we are about half way through'

Every week we follow the ups and downs of farmers around the Uk.

Well, just as the weather improved nicely and allowed cattle to graze for a few lovely dry days and nights, the Beast from the East came and messed the job up good and proper.

 

The harsh cold weather was a bit of a shock to us ‘nesh’ Yorkshire folk living in Dorset, who have become accustomed to generally mild winters. The harsh weather was thankfully short lived, as for us, like for most livestock farmers, it made the daily jobs miserable.

 

Carting water and defrosting the milking parlour seemed to take up most of the day. Our milk tanker driver did a sterling job and made it in and out safely, but I did hear of lots of others who did not fair as well. This must be soul destroying after putting in the extra effort, only to see it go down the drain.

 

On the plus side, we did have some fun with the children and friends playing in the snow on our great Alpine-like sledging slopes. While some young members of our family were praying for heavy snowfalls I certainly was not.

 

The whole weather episode and the panic buying and stockpiling of food, leaving supermarket shelves bare, shows how fragile the whole supply chain really is. If a few days of increased demand and delayed deliveries cause this, imagine what a week would be like.

 

This could be even worse if we were to be more reliant on food imports in a post-Brexit situation; surely another reason to push for more self-sufficiency and increased domestic supply.

 

Calving is still in full swing and we are about half way through. It has been much steadier than we thought and would have liked, as we have had a lot of Jersey-sired calves going overdue, mostly by about 14 days. This was handy when the new parlour was not quite finished, but as it is now, it is rather annoying.

 

I spread urea fertiliser on the whole grazing platform in late February and the response is very noticeable and pleasing. We are well setup for spring and good grazing when conditions allow. We will follow cows with an application of slurry.

 

I recently had an enjoyable tour of the Barbers Cheese dairy, along with other local suppliers. It was fascinating to see how they turn our milk into fantastic award-winning Cheddar and other dairy products. The logistics, processes and hard work involved, along with their passion, was impressive.


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