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Rodney Down: Trailers have apparently 'grown' and some urgent work needed on branding milk

Autumn is well and truly here, with our soils now very sticky and wet on top. The only way to finish planting our last few acres will be to plough over some drier soil.
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Now the weather has broken, cattle will be housed quite quickly as grass covers were non-existent due to the dry September. I brought this decision forward by a week when the phone rang twice in two minutes to tell me two different groups of cows were out on a Saturday morning.


A quick risk assessment was done as to who had the nicest garden, who would get most upset, have they ever complained about mud on the road or tractors and trailers running late into the night (yes, that has happened and got printed in the local parish magazine) before I decided which to retrieve first.


We have had a few complaints about tractors and trailers this year. The intensity of the trailer traffic is definitely more, but it only lasts a day or two, not the week or two like in the years past. The local policeman even told me our trailers have got so big lately: Amazing really as they are the same ones we have been using for more than 15 years.

Branding issue

Feed budgets for the cows are under scrutiny as the milk price heads south. I am a realist and do believe supply and demand has a part to play, but it is a brave man to say so in front of other producers. What I cannot defend is the fact water is priced at more than milk in some places. That is a branding issue and something which we can complain about.


Bread has been branded along with water, and both are everyday foods. My co-op (Arla) now needs to move swiftly to correct this and bring some of the power away from the supermarket branded milk. Moving away from the cost of production model has cost my business hundreds of thousands of pounds this year.


We all need to be super efficient (we are all trying) or be able to sell our milk forward like we can cereals or have a strong co-op. All would be good. In the meantime, I guess the bigger silage trailers will have to wait yet another year.

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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