This has been the most difficult spring in my farming career, so difficult I’ve been reluctant to write about it.

We had five failed attempts to put the cows out, but eventually achieved a turnout having lost three months of the nine-month grazing period - the most important three months too.

One third of the paddocks were constantly under water and we made a decision to avoid contamination by big baling these before grazing, but we had to wait until the machinery could travel, which caused delay while the grass roared away.

One third of the paddocks we intermittently grazed and poached badly and one third was grazed as mowing grass or pre-mowed with some success.

Now in the middle of flaming June, the temperature has been so cold that the grass has stopped growing.


I understand I am not alone in this dilemma. I have never had to buffer feed in June before.

Throughout the winter, cows produced 3l/day less due to silage quality and, since turnout, difficult grazing conditions mean they are still underperforming by 3l/a cow per day.

The only good thing about all this inclement weather, which is possibly the norm in future, was there was no spring flush, milk supplies are falling away and the milk price will have to rise.

Another blot on the horizon is my contractor tells me the price for silaging will rise by £25/ac next year due to increased costs and labour difficulties.


We like to do our silage making by 14 May before the grass heads. This year, we got to 24 May and were promised two fine days.

On the Monday, we cut 100ac and Tuesday morning the forage harvester was due to start at ten o’clock. It didn’t arrive and we were informed it was being worked on by a mechanic.

It arrived at three o’clock in the afternoon, drove 10 yards and ground to a halt. I was rather concerned when the mechanic arrived and started hitting the gear box with a sledge hammer.

We managed 40ac that day and the following three days had incessant rain. We then recovered the final 60ac.

After all this mayhem, we were delighted to escape to Cork and visit Millstreet. We were fascinated by the machinery associated with big baling on our friend’s farm.

The baler which applied wrap instead of net, to self-loading bale trailer and the grab for cutting the bale in winter and removing the plastic – all food for thought.

Back home, on Friday night I checked the weather forecast, constant rain for the next fortnight, so I told Steve to fertilise. The minute he started, it changed to two weeks of constant sunshine.

Who would be a dairy farmer.