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Rodney Down: 'Wooden spoon' dairy record broken, and a brief trip to Germany

A proper summer it’s been so far.
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Barley harvest, although a let-down as far as yields are concerned, was the earliest we have had, and then the wheat was started on July 25 at 11.7 per cent moisture.


This was the earliest I have ever started. An early crop is not usually the best, it only yielded 8-8.5 tonnes/hectare (3.2-3.4t/acre).


July saw another record broken on the cows. I like it when we get the ‘wooden spoon’ records and this time it was butterfat at an eye-watering 2.8 per cent for nearly two weeks running.


Anyone on an Arla contract will now be able to work out why it is so bad when you work out the deductions. With some tinkering with the ration and some inclusion of average quality silage - I knew it would come in useful - we have climbed to 3.5 per cent.


We had the pleasure of hosting a kitchen table meeting with Owen Paterson. He seemed in touch with the issues facing CAP reform and used some strong language about some of the new rules and his disagreement with them.


He impressed my neighbours and I, but we are now asking ourselves whether him wearing his heart on his sleeve was the result of him knowing he was going to get the sack. Either way I see his sacking as a loss to agriculture.


I managed to cram in a trip to Germany to buy heifers with a friend. It was an excellent trip, but it left me wondering when sellers of dairy cows in this country will raise their game and test all heifers for Johne’s disease, like the ones from Germany. These cows are cheaper as a result of the strong pound, so I guess tractors will be coming down soon as a result?


As we head into holiday season, Lauren has one more week of intensive chemo left and then it is a maintenance dose for 20 months. She should be back at school in September. We are told she will make a full recovery - full credit to the NHS.


Harrison also starts school at the same time, but a challenge lies ahead. In his last pre-school report his teacher commented on how his speech has come along, ‘especially rhyming, he even knows what rhymes with bucket’.

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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