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Peter Chapman: Calving taking over, and ground conditions need to improve

Calving has taken precedence lately, with 29 of the 64 cows having produced a calf. We are definitely going to miss our target of 60 per cent calved in three weeks this year, but I cannot complain, as we have not had to look near a cow so far.

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All have calved unassisted, producing big strong lively calves. We have not had many heifers calve so far which has not helped.

 

The bull which was with that group went lame after the first week, so we bought a young bull to fill the gap. He has sired a few, but I think he may have been a bit intimidated in his new job and may have missed some. The older bull was back in action after a couple of weeks so we will see an increase shortly as they were all PD’d in-calf.

 

The one thing which has been unusual this season is the amount of males we have had. Out of the 29 born, nine have been heifers with 20 bulls, which is great, but does cut down the options when selecting bulling heifers next year.

 

Ground conditions are still on the raw side, but are heading in the right direction. I still have not managed to get the plough going, but it should be in action this week looking at the weather forecast. Last week was mainly taken up with drainage duties. The 17 hectares (42 acres) of land we bought last year was drilled with winter oilseed rape, but patches are looking poor due to wet feet.

 

We decided to do some draining through the crop to rectify the situation, as the ground needs to dry out now to give plants any hope. It breaks my heart seeing a slough digger working through the middle of a standing crop, but needs must.

 

Most of the trouble has been caused by old stone drains which had choked and needed cutting. It is amazing how much water these tracks filled with field stones can run, but they are a real pain in a modern situation.

 

Charlie, our drainage contractor, is a master at finding and rectifying these old systems, so I am confident the place will look totally different in a few weeks. It will need to, with spring around the corner, as the sprayer will soon be hard at work with fertiliser and pesticide applications to be done.

 

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