It’s been a busy time in the calving yard over the last two months, with 62 purchased heifers calving-in for the first time, alongside the cows.
We’ve been investing in quality, bought-in female genetics as a way to build herd size and improve cow genetics, alongside breeding our own replacements. We genomically test all females and adopt a sexed and beef strategy using carefully selected bulls. We’ve also recently taken our artificial insemination in-house by employing an extra staff member, which means we can serve 12 hours a day.
Ultimately it’s about building a sustainable and efficient system by producing robust cows with strength and longevity. Every animal needs to be worthy of being here. We’re looking for cows that will do 100t of milk in their lifetime. We’re now at 630 in-milk, with the long-term aim of hitting 1,000 cows.
All of the embryos, heifers and milking cows we’ve purchased have come from proven herds and herds that care about their cows. That includes Willsbro, Styche Holsteins, the Willenhall Herd, Thakeham Holsteins and the Gladwake herd. Our commitment to quality genetics was reflected in a very satisfying classification day, with four first time Ex, four multi-Ex and 36 VGs out of 100 cows and heifers.
August was also a busy time for forage making. We managed make the most of a window of opportunity and took a third cut of lucerne in mid-August. It’s been clamped on top of third cut grass silage which was taken 2-3 weeks earlier, which shows how patchy the weather was. It’s been a challenging forage season, which has highlighted the beauty of having own own equipment and the ability to go when the weather allows. We also combined barley, rape and wheat. Some of the wheat is fed to the cows and the rest is sold.
Our silages are generally analysing and feeding well. But the challenge is with the high sugars in the first cut grass silage, which means we are getting some slippage on the clamp. We’ve also established some new grass and white clover leys which will be used as a crop primarily for the sheep and to avoid bare soils over winter.
It will be maize harvest next. It will be interesting to see how the maize comes off as we have done a farm study to compare a standard drill with one that staggers the plants. We will look at yields and silage quality. Watch this space for the results.