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Phil Latham: Preparing for a new growing season on the farm and a new arrival at home

We have been fairly lucky this winter as we’ve escaped the worst of wind and the rain which has affected many parts of the country.

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It’s the first time we’ve kept heifers out for so long, but the grass has finally run out and the stubble turnips have been grazed, so most youngstock are finally heading for a brief spell indoors.

 

I’m surprised by how good they all look, despite not being protected from the elements. The winter barley is looking good and if the ground dries up, we’ll look forward to injecting some slurry into it before it gets too bold.

 

I like this time of year because it’s full of promise - the buds on the trees indicate there’s a new growing season coming and it will soon be time to stop planning and get on with doing.

 

We made many changes last year as I tried to adapt our business to the reality of farming against the threat of TB locally, and it will be an exciting and challenging time to see how best to make more margin from better use of our available grassland with a reduced herd and team.

 

I am concerned Defra’s TB Edge strategy isn’t delivering yet as there has been no assessment as to the role badgers play as a reservoir of infection, but I hope we’ll be able to assess the role of our badgers in Cheshire with post-mortems being done of 70 or so RTA badgers by Professor Bennett’s team from the University of Liverpool.

 

Emma is due for her scan next week to check on our baby’s progress and hopefully we’ll know if we’re expecting a bull or a heifer.

 

If all goes to plan, I know I’m expecting sleepless nights and a lot of extra dad duties just at the point when we’ll be making haylage and running events, so in order to create a little extra time, I have decided not to reapply to the NFU Dairy Board for another stint as a co-opted member.

 

I have really enjoyed attending the meetings and would urge any motivated dairy farmers to get involved and participate if they can spare the time.

 

Muttering in the pub doesn’t change things, but for a lucky few there will be a chance to engage in stimulating meetings discussing the industries challenges. I will miss it.

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