Dominic Naylor: Back to basics with the cows has reduced the loss on milk

THE farm has taken on a decidedly brown hue and has nothing to do with the end of the ‘closed period’ but heralds, I hope, the end of winter. It came in like a lion this year so let’s hope it goes out like a lamb.

Talking of lambs, I sent the last of the lambs and all the teaser tups to Malton this week and averaged £80. The teasers did a good job this year but I think the spirit was willing but the flesh was a bit weak.

They were more bone and attitude than meat. I’ll keep some ram lambs back from this year’s crop as next season’s teasers.

The shearlings have all had their first Heptavac and footrot jabs. I would have vaccinated for the latter prior to housing but feeding them in the snow left little time for anything else.

Students are also busy footbathing the housed ewes with copper sulphate. I took the opportunity to condition score them and have eased back on the concentrate as they are on the wrong side of 3.

The cows are milking well on their austere rations and the back to basics approach appears to be getting cows back in calf, despite the dire warnings from those advocating the use of high energy foods. At 1p per litre, that’s £15k less loss.

A relatively dry few days has allowed us to put a bit of nitrogen on the rape. If it continues, I’ll look at the grazing ground as the brown hue needs to turn green.

Forage stocks are a concern this winter and although I measure the clamps each month and calculate there’s enough to last until May, I’ve bought sugarbeet shreds to be on the safe side.

I’m sure I’m not the only one, but any worries I have about the business always seem much worse in the wee small hours.

I’ve started listening to Radio 4 while I load the mixer wagon. I jumped back in the cab the other morning and heard that Rottweiler John Humphreys being surprisingly gentle with who I assumed was a posh lady flogging trees to raise money for a good cause. I didn’t realise it was the Defra Secretary.

Not the most inspiring performance and following on from her recent call for ‘sustainable intensification’ in agriculture, I’ve been left wondering what her next oxymoron will be…..supermarket fair-trade!

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