“Aye, it’s not a year for you to be futtering about” was the blunt (but accurate) response of a close friend when I told them that we were using a contractor to harvest our first cut rather than tackling it ourselves (as we normally would).

Limited weather windows ensured that we made the momentous decision to condense silage fun from four days to 12 hours, and I am most thankful that we did.

However, my father was still able to get his fix of DIY silage making, as 12ac at an out-farm were inaccessible to a self-propelled harvester.

In the last few weeks, low growth rates have made grazing management difficult. To extend the grazing rotation, we have been buffer feeding cows zero-grazed grass, both while they are in for milking and while at grass though the use of a feeding trailer.

Dry conditions have recently allowed us to pre-mow grazing for the first time this year.


Back in the yard, we recently replaced meal feeders in the milking parlour.

Due to age, one of the feeders would let down extra nuts when hit with enough force. Cow 677 had realised this and every milking would ensure that she would only enter the parlour when she could be positioned at this particular feeder. Never underestimate a cow’s intelligence – this one can even count.

As soon as she had consumed her allocation, cow 677 would repeatedly bang at the feeder (I am fortunate not to have developed tinnitus) while her row was being milked.

I feared that the amount of extra concentrates that she was consuming would destroy my milk from forage figures!

However, within two milkings of having replaced the feeders she had realised that no matter how much she struck the feeder no extra nuts would appear. Part of me did sympathise with the poor old girl, as I know how much satisfaction this activity must have given her.


Away from the farm, while attending my brother-in-law’s recent wedding week, I had a fantastic conversation with an 89-year-old gentleman, who enthusiastically informed me about how glad he was that they had invested in a robotic milking system.

He was delighted with the extra data it gave him on cow performance. He was still fully engaged on the farm, and had also enjoyed carting silage that week.

Farming is quite unique, in that people retain such tremendous love and enthusiasm for the industry.

It is also quite amusing just how farmers are able to pick out other members of the agricultural community at formal engagements, even when we are not in the usual welly and denim uniform. It is almost a form of radar, where we are able to find someone ready to engage in conversation about milk prices and ground conditions.

Before meeting my now wife, I had two ‘holidays’ a year. The first would be a weekend to the Highland Show and the second would be on the Young Famers’ Agri and Rural Affairs study tour.

Despite my holiday destination changing, the agricultural flavour remains. Much of my baggage allowance is now taken up with a two-month backlog of farming literature that I have not had time to read.

While I love getting away to a different country, it really is made perfect by reading topics such as what might be the best grass varieties for silage. We really are a rare breed.

Read more

Farmer Writes: searching for hope in a weather app

Watch: big grass crops from a spattering of N