At home, it has been a challenging year with late-made (three weeks) first-cut filling the clamp excessively. The surfeit was quickly reduced with a two-and-a-half-month drought when every animal on the farm was on winter rations.

The late-made silage is obviously of lower quality and is restricting yield by possibly 3l/cow. Makes one think of multi-cut silage.

The grass silage shortfall is being boosted by bought-in fodder beet, brewer’s grains and maize silage, all acquired at a price, but hopefully cheaper than next spring if we suffer a late turn out.

“You can’t afford to gamble if you can’t afford to lose.”

The autumn group have all calved and are bulling well – probably a reflection on how well they were fed during the drought.


“When farmers are short of food, they feed cows properly,” as the saying goes.

Another one is: “If it doesn’t pay to feed them, it definitely doesn’t pay to starve them.”

Urea levels are quite low, which I am told is a good thing as high urea levels which we’ve suffered from in the past, impair the egg bedding in the uterus.

The use of sexed semen has been useful in reducing the number of heifer calves, but not so successful in the bull-rearing department.

The other end of the table obviously didn’t use sexed semen on the very best cows, as they were potential bull mothers, with many generations of excellent and very good behind them.

Unfortunately, all produced a bull calf leaving us with twice the number of breeding bulls planned. We have now reached three and four generations excellent and six generations of very good and excellent which should help with our bull breeding. Would anybody like a good Friesian bull?


A mixer feed wagon rep came in the other day to organise a week’s trial and possible purchase. At the end of his presentation, he said that if you feed chopped straw, if you’re lucky you might get 3.5% butterfat. I had to smile having a herd of black and whites already doing excess of 4.5% without any straw.

Over here, the dairy market commentators/journalists have been exhorting dire warnings of milk price drops and are complaining “don’t shoot the messenger.”

True, hopefully they can’t talk the price down as they are being accused of, but wouldn’t they feel aggrieved if the farming community continued reminded them that their salaries were going to be cut by at least a third?

They are now absolving themselves by pointing out that any price cuts will result in an exodus of dairy farmers, the moment they have a clear TB test.

Also, the shortage of labour will ensure that since the next generation have wives and children, they want to spend time with and who find it difficult to realise that farming is 24/7 and not nine to five.


For sure the world dairy prices are falling but I don’t see any fresh milk being sold in those auctions and that is the thing that will be needed. Console yourselves, if the milk price drops below 40p, I can guarantee it will be 60p by next August.

I base this on the fact that every processor is ringing around recruiting. For the first time in my life, I am glad to be in dairying. I have never been a fan of fixed-price contracts and cost-of-production contracts, and now the tide’s gone out you can see who hasn’t got any trunks.