We took advantage of a small fine weather window last week to get our silage in, albeit with a fair bit of pressure on to get finished before the rain started again.
Our contractors went above and beyond the call of duty to beat the weather, working late and early to finish in time.
It’s been very stop-start since too, with every tractor, mower and harvester flat out on the fine days, trying to catch up on work postponed due to high rainfall right through May. Hopefully, everyone will stay safe and the weather will settle down soon to take some of the pressure off.
With no other topping or baling done through May, we are looking at a very untidy grazing platform this week, with a lot of dung pads and stem appearing. Hopefully we will get most of this tidied up over the next couple of weeks with a combination of topping and baling, before switching to some of the aftergrass towards the end of the month.
We have fertiliser out for the second cut already and will get some slurry out with the trailing shoe tanker over the next week or so. We would have cut a bit more silage if there was a longer dry spell available to us, so we have another section of the farm left to cut next week, weather permitting.
We might bale this or put some of it in the back of another pit to help to bulk up the second cut when it comes in. We might see which machines are available as much as anything when the time comes. Having to split the cut is creating extra work, but it will be great to have some aftergrass at different stages on the milking platform.
The inclement weather has hit cows hard over the last month. They have spent more time standing at gaps and ditches than grazing, but the improvement in temperatures and sunshine this week has improved their humour as well. Hopefully, it will also help milk yield recover a bit of lost ground, especially if we can get grass quality back on track quickly.
Breeding is progressing well, with the heat detection system still performing accurately. We will continue to AI for the rest of the season, with the late-season tailpaint guesswork taken out of it, using mostly beef sires for the March calves that will be due from now on.
It has been a tough enough time on our young calves as well over the last month. All the replacement heifer calves are out to grass but we’ve continued to feed some meal and hay through the worst of the weather.
Hopefully we can finish up with this after this week and maybe just pull out a couple of younger calves for special attention later on in the year if necessary.
As we move through June, we might also get some clarity on a new CAP deal from the EU. We are, rightly or wrongly, moving inextricably towards a system that prioritises the environment and climate above food production and economic growth.
We do need to improve significantly in both of those areas over the next few years, but we should also keep our main business as food producers front and centre of our agenda. Farmers’ primary role is to grow the produce that keeps people nourished across the world.
We are having to defend our position more and more every day both on mainstream and social media. Maybe it’s time we were a bit stronger and backed ourselves more. We could improve alright, but people’s attitudes to us and the value they put on the food that we produce could improve a lot too.