It really does feel as if Spring has sprung already! The cows are out, the sun is out, but the jury is still out on the future of dairy farming, with even a hold in price from Arla seeming like a blessing these days.
Turning the cows out was a bit of a snap decision this year, happening earlier than ever before, with the cows grazing for a few hours during the day from the 15th of February. Unfortunately it was so unexpected that Liz and little David missed it, much to their disappointment! It’s hardly surprising however after such a mild winter, and we didn’t have sheep grazing on our nearby paddocks this year, so we’ve carried much more grass into the Spring. Work has been under way over the winter to prepare the infrastructure needed to start grazing. The electric fences have all been checked over, with repairs made where necessary, the tracks have been scraped back to chalk, and filled in in places, and we added a few second entrances into paddocks, so, besides a few poached gateways, it’s working well so far.
Spring Calving is well underway. We have just sold our first batch of Angus calves, to a regular buyer who we’re pleased to have a good business relationship with. We have usually found Angus calves quite popular, and the fact that Angus are generally known for easy calving, and can be used on both cows and heifers, has made them an attractive choice for us. With this in mind we have just purchased our second Angus bull, and have another reserved ready for serving our Spring block. The thought behind having stock bulls is that it will help with our struggling submission rates, especially on the milking cows. We already run a bull with our heifers, but in order to have a rotation of bulls, for the cows as well, we needed a few more.
John and Matt continue to puzzle over figures, and research and assess future investments on the farm, but despite the constant changing of the seasons, and the hopeful growth of spring all around us, it feels as if the milk price has somewhat stalled the growth of the farm for the time being. Though it looks like spring outside, it is very much still winter where our budget is concerned, but we hope that China’s increased imports are a glimpse that new life will come in this area too.