Christopher Murley farms in partnership with his parents and two brothers at Higher Bojewyan Farm, Pendeen, on the extreme west tip of Cornwall, where they run 310 pedigree Jerseys and 140 youngstock.
Cows started calving at Levant on January 31, with some heifers calving first, and now we only have a few left to calve. So far we’ve had 21 Jersey heifer calves out of the 47 due to Jersey, and the rest are in calf to British Blue or Angus.
Five days after calving the cows are turned out on grass day and night and milked once a day at 5am. There have been spells of very rough and chilly weather since they have been out, but so far they seem to be able to cope with these conditions quite well, even though we don’t have much shelter from the wind. For most of the winter the wind has been from a northerly direction which is probably the worst for us coming directly from the sea with our only shelter being America!
Overall, cows have calved very well, with only one needing a caesarian and one with milk fever. They have stayed clean on deep straw with the sheds cleaned out every five weeks, and mastitis and cell counts have been good.
Grass growth has been slower than we would like in February and March, with some fields actually recording less grass than the week before even though they weren’t grazed. Cows at Bojewyan have been out since February 9 and have grazed all the normal grazing platform and some of the silage area as well. Autumn calvers at Bojewyan are doing almost 20 litres at over 6% fat and 4% protein. Feeding is grass by day and grass silage and alkalage by night and 4.5kg in the parlour. Spring calvers at Levant are averaging 17 litres at 5.7% fat and 3.9% protein on grazed grass and 2kgs of a 14% nut in the parlour.
Youngstock finished the kale in early March and after a few very wet days with only round bales have now been able to graze grass. So far they have grazed most of the silage ground the cows can’t walk to.
Now in early April the grass growth seems to have finally taken off at 60kg DM/ha per day and we are hopeful the Bojewyan cows can graze day and night and the feeder wagon be parked up. Also we should have surplus to save up for silage. First application of fertiliser went on in mid-February in the form of urea with some sulphur at 50 units/acre. We have used urea for first application for a long time now with good results.
After taking some soil samples we found we were able to use just nitrogen on most of our area as the P and K index is very good, so all silage ground will have slurry applied after each cut to keep it topped up. This means our fertiliser cost has reduced for this year, and in addition we purchased it back in October for December delivery and this has also saved us £24/tonne on current prices.
Due to a reasonably dry spell in Febru-ary, all spring corn ground has had slurry and dung and been ploughed, so now we can get the kale fields ready for grass seeds.
This year we have taken on another 35 acres of land which we will sow with short-term ryegrass to cut for silage and to make some haylage to feed dry cows. At last month’s milk recording we chose to try their PD service as it will save us a lot of time scanning with the vet if it can be proved to work.
The only problem is it won’t tell us if a cow is dirty or anoestrous which the vet can sort while scanning, so time will tell on that. With only a few cows left to calve our attention has turned to getting fields ready for silage with fertiliser, grass harrowing and some rolling, not to mention picking up stones which have been rolled off the hedges by young stock.
Thankfully after all the recent milk price drops we have now been told by Arla Milklink our price will be going up, which at our quality will total over 1ppl which is most welcome. I only hope the price continues to move upwards and the removal of milk quotas doesn’t put us back to square one!