My Farming Week: Adrian Broaden

arablelivestockfarm lifedairyColumnistsMy farming week+-

Cows: The cows have been put out this week but only for a few hours, gradually increasing the time outside to bring them up to full daytime grazing. However, the rain is making this tricky.

All the cows are out on this system. Until we have control of the grass, they will be split with higher yielders staying in full-time and the low group being out full-time.

We only have about 20 hectares (50 acres) of grazing available around the parlour, the rest is inaccessible to cows and silaged.

With just three cows left to calve, my wife Jenny is looking forward to the break from feeding calves.

However, calving starts again in July with more than 50 due and another 100 by the end of September. Thoughts of managing these are coming to the front of our minds.

This is a change for us. We are moving from year-round calving to a more condensed group.

This is to suit our milk buyer, Dairy Crest, and to make a better use of seasonality payments.

Heifer rearing: Weaned calves are reared by two brothers who are ex-dairy farmers. They live five miles away and take excellent care of calves. With targets of calving at two years, they seem to be reaching this comfortably.

Our last group of weaned calves has gone to them this week prior to our full herd bTB test.

Field work: Graeme, our full-time worker, having been on slurry tanking duties most of the winter, has now started ripping fields for barley and maize.

Silage pits are being tidied in readiness for the first cut, while waiting for the weather to improve so we can continue to prepare for drilling.

Cow housing: Interesting debates seem to be taking place regarding cows housed full-time, extended and conventional grazing, and housing.

The key is each has its merits and disadvantages. We must accept a system may suit one farm but not another and no system suits all farmers and all cows.

Most importantly, we need to provide high levels of welfare, high quality standards and promote the health benefits of milk without criticising a different production method which is different than the one you do at home.

Adrian Boaden is a dairy farmer from Cornwall. He milks 155 Holstein Fresians and two Ayrshire cows which belong to his children, increasing to 180 cows in partnership with his parents. Adrian’s wife, Jenny and children Lucy and Edward also help on-farm.

He also grows 12ha (29.6 acres) cereals for wholecrop and 30ha (74 acres) maize.

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