Gywn Jones' Farm Diary December 29 2005

Where did 2005 go? Either I am getting older, or busier, but this year has just flown.

It has in fairness been a very good year weather wise for dairy farming. A reasonably early spring, with early growth, a slight hiccup at silage time in May, a good summer with the rain arriving just in time at the end of July, and a great autumn, which we are still enjoying! I dislike winters, and if this is global warming '“ rock on!

Our cows have done well. They have milked well, the milk quality has been outstanding, and we have placed ourselves well inside the top bands for cell-counts and hygiene. Fertility is our biggest problem, and we need to put much more effort into this area. Late night checks to see which cows are bulling loses its attraction after a few weeks, but it is essential as most cows are seen showing signs of coming on heat late at night '“ very helpful girls.

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The main concern for our business is the commercial pressure to produce milk cheaper year on year, but meet environmental legislation which is pushing us to lower stocking rates, limit the amount of fertiliser (both chemical and manures) applied, and then of course leave strips of land un-fertilised around streams, field boundaries etc: Animal welfare must also improve, and of course this is common sense in terms of greater performance out of happy cows, but it carries a cost, which again does not square with lower prices.

Full column in West Sussex Gazette, December 29 2005