Dominic Naylor: Cows going out as the fields burst into colour

What a difference a month makes. The previously barren-looking farm has now burst into colour. The slurry we spread onto the wheat last month has turned it a dark lush green and, having reached GS 32, we’ve applied T1 sprays.

Students power-harrowed 100 acres of maize ground, while an ex-student sub-soiled it. At the time of drilling, soil temperatures at 10cm were only 6degC, but with plastic covering the entire acreage I wasn’t too concerned.

In the 10 days since drilling, the maize has now emerged, despite a lack of rain and a couple of frosty mornings. Given the earliness in which we can harvest it as well, I’d have to say I wouldn’t bother growing it if it wasn’t under plastic.

The lucerne has got off to a slower start but I’ll silage it the first dry week in May so I can get four cuts in over the season. The cows have certainly missed it from the diet with butterfats plummeting since it ran out.

The dry weather has enabled the dairy cows to go out in the day time and will enable us to install fans in the cubicle shed and, hopefully, carry out some repairs to the cubicles themselves.

The grazing ground for the sheep is now in full flight with ewes milking well and lambs growing fast. A few lambs with dirty back ends have prompted me to take some faecal egg counts, from which I’m awaiting the results from the college labs.

We’ve also lost some lambs to pasteurella, which is always frustrating as they’re in that gap between acquired immunity from the ewe’s colostrum and immunity from vaccination.

The students have been busy preparing for the annual stockmanship competition, where they will be judged on the handling and knowledge of their cattle or sheep. The event brings out the best in the students. It’s great to see a student from an arable background halter training a pedigree Holstein heifer.

By the time you read this, a new Government will have been elected. Let us hope whoever it may be, it returns MAFF to its rightful place and abolishes the petty bureaucracy, which has fettered our industry these past 13 years.

As farmers, we need to be supported by a Government that recognises the contribution agriculture makes to both the economy and society as a whole.

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