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Will Case: Wondering if summer will ever arrive as calving continues and the new dairy unit takes shape

Insights
There’s more progress with the new dairy unit for Cumbrian writer Will Case, while beef cattle are being turned out and lambs are doing well so far. But will summer ever arrive?
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Will Case
Will Case
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Phase one of the dairy unit is complete for new Cumbrian dairy entrants Will and Simon Case #teamdairy

Well, we’re into May and we are still trying to shake off the shackles of winter. Just when you think it’s gone, like a B-movie villain, it keeps coming back! Usually the cattle become restless at the end of April as things start to warm up and they can sense it’s time to be turned out. Not this year. The store cattle in the buildings have been content, and almost a little bit smug, as they sit inside watching us battle against the elements.

 

As I write this, we’ve just turned the last of the store cattle out. We still have two bays in the silage pit and we were glad of it as we are normally eaten up by the start of May. The old saying “plenty got, plenty needed” has a strange habit of coming true.

 

We have been busy erecting the silage pits for the dairy unit at Robbswater. The last of the walls have been shuttered now and we are about ready for first cut - phase one is complete. Simon is playing a hands-on role in the building and I’ve lent a hand when needed. Our building contractor is doing a superb job, and we’re now getting quite good at this concreting lark.

 

This month has seen us undergo our British Egg Industry Council (BEIC) ’Lion Code’ audit on the hens. The audit is thorough and keeps us on our toes. We do it every six months to keep us up to the Lion Standard. It’s quite demanding but extremely important as it protects our home market from substandard imports. Nobody wants unnecessary paper work, but the BEIC does a very good job. Standards can and should protect our home market; UK farm standards are high and should be lauded.

 

Texel lambs have been weighed at eight weeks and I’m very happy with how they’ve done. The biggest single lambs were more than 40kg and I’m looking forward to seeing how they progress. Our Texel ewes are taking part in a mastitis survey organised by the Texel Society in an attempt to collect data on the causes of mastitis. I think this is a very forward looking move by the society and will hopefully prove useful in the future.

 

Calving is well under way at the moment with our Salers cows calving outside unassisted. Things have gone well so far despite the wind and rain. We are well over half way now and I hope the remaining cows get to enjoy some sunshine in their maternity ward. Surely summer must due to arrive soon? Better late than never I suppose!

Will Case, Cumbria

Will Case farms 300ha (750 acres) in partnership with brother Simon and parents William and Margaret at Ulverston, Cumbria. Land is divided between Plumpton Cottage Farm, and Robbs Water Farm, near Burrow in Furness. They farm 1, 000 lowland ewes, 90 pedigree Texel ewes, 65 Salers suckler cows, fatten 150 bought-in store cattle and have 12,000 free-range laying hens.

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