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Rodney Down: A novel form of controlled traffic farming, and good news for Lauren


March has been and gone in a flash and what looked like an abundance of forage at the beginning of last month has run out this week. All youngstock will have to go out.

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In a bid to free up space and feed I am beginning to pick fat cattle after a six-month break. The price is somewhat different to the last time I sent cattle and so is the waiting list at the abattoir. I will try some liveweight as well as deadweight as a comparison because they will just be too fat if I wait. The problem animals seem to be the dairy steers again and at current prices I will barely break even on them.


Only the high yielders remain in at night as growth rates on the grass have been level at 30kg DM/hectare (12kg DM/acre) for three weeks, but has doubled to 62kg DM/ha (25kg DM/acre) this week. Luckily we have managed to complete one round with the low yielders already so average cover only stands at 2,100kg DM/ha (850kg DM/acre).


Most T0s have been applied and we are about to go with the second dose of N. We have decided to adopt a controlled traffic system again in some of our fields – when you drop into the tramline/ruts, it is in control and there is no way you can get out of them. The wet weather has really taken its toll on fine seedbeds and the headlands this year. Disease levels are ok though, with our hybrid (Hystar) showing no disease and a much richer green leaf than anything else.


Our daughter Lauren’s bone marrow test result was good and she is now firmly on the right track to a full recovery. We are now, however, entering an intense period of treatment because although her prognosis is good there are still two years of treatment to go. It is, however, a little easier to deal with now we know there is light at the end of the tunnel. This will hopefully mean I do not have to endure taking the flu jab next year, because as I have found out it gives little protection to the worst form of them all, man flu.

Rodney Down


Rodney Down farms with his wife Claire at Higher Wrantage Farm, Taunton, Somerset, with 125ha (307 acres) on a farm business tenancy and a further 323ha (800 acres) rented and contract farmed. He milks 300 Holstein Friesians and runs 350 beef cattle and followers. The farm includes 180ha (445 acres) feed wheat and 61ha (150 acres) of maize.

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