Instead of boring you with excuses I'll try and bring you all up to date with the year with some pictures!
As you know the year started with a horrible cold spring.
Here we are vaccinating R2s in the sleet!
Because our old sheds couldn't cope with the rainfall, we turfed the calves out early. They had a tough start but are now thriving.
Not the most exciting photo, but you can see the damage done to our paddocks in the spring.
As soon as conditions improved we set about repairing the damage. Trashed paddocks had new grass oversown and our tracks were earmarked for resurfacing. We took the opportunity to widen the track above which leads to our furthest paddocks.
Once May arrived the heat and warmth really kicked in. May-September we only recorded two weeks growing less than 70kgDM/Ha. To counter this and avoid cutting mountains of silage we set about premowing. Every paddock had to be mowed twice to stop the grass heading!
Here are the bull teams getting ready for action! We cut the AI period to 4 weeks this year. We recorded 90% cycling in the first 3 weeks. Scanning results have been excellent: 90% in calf in 6 weeks with only 5% empty after 12 weeks.
We were very fortunate to source second hand astrotruf to cover our tracks. First we graded them out by patching and rolling any holes, then unrolled astroturf to create a very soft cow friendly sruface. Check out the video here: https://goo.gl/photos/VHWM1LZ7EmXswTh39
View of the herd ready to be milked. Typically we'd get 3 months unsupplemented production. This year it will be 4.5.
Heading into the autumn covers rose without much effort. Clover had been particularly prominent in our swards which is great for milk production.
Just like the cows, our calves have been unsupplemented since May and look very content on grass.
A final shot of us rolling out astroturf. A lot of the work we have carried out this year has really been dictated to us by the weather!
I hope this gives you an idea of what we've been up to. Normal, more detailed blog posts will be coming soon.
Until then, there should be plenty of grass on UK farms so there's no excuse to not keep grazing!