We always think December should be easy, no milking, holidays, Christmas, cows dried off but it can also be quite challenging as this year has proved more so than in recent memory. However, it wasn’t the snow which caused the problems – the cows loved the snow – it was the thaw and then the rain which rapidly turned the ground into a quagmire.
The team were mobilised to ensure we moved the cows over the ground quicker, so they weren’t stood in a swamp. Yet while the fields are getting back to normal in a visible sense, there can be long-lasting damage to the soil structure.
Chris, our grassland manager, will be keeping an eye on this throughout the early months of 2018 to make sure the farm is set up for the spring. There’s a lot of fencing and water repairs but now is the best time to get these little jobs ticked off.
Of course, alongside the extra maintenance, we also carried on milking right up to December 19. It’s the latest we’ve ever milked but it gave us a great opportunity to train new staff and to see if we could get our late-calving cows to continue producing.
Once the 19th was over, all the cows were dried off and then transitioned onto fodder beet. Cows we think might not be in the best condition are monitored together to ensure they’re in the rudest health for calving at the end of January.
There was minimal manpower on-site across the Christmas period itself, simply feeding and checking the herd and giving the staff a much needed break!
See you in the New Year!