Thursday, 25 June 2009

Allow Cows Plenty of Space During Milking

Last week I had a great opportunity to stand & observe a herd of cows entering a circular collecting yard for milking in a new twin 20:40 Herringbone parlour. Stephen & Sandra Woof farm in Dorset & have not long been in the new parlour. Firstly the herd was brought in by Alistair (on foot) in a very quite & calm way. The 7 metre tracks are excellent, the cows moved quickly but tracked at their own pace. Once at the yards they walked directly to the milking platform. The cows filled the circular yard all facing in the right direction. Once the yard gate was closed the backing gate was left in place to allow the cows plenty of space. The cows were relaxed & at ease. This is so important as Neil Chesterton the NZ Vet from Inglewood in Taranaki has observed that much of the lameness on grass based dairy farms occurs in the collecting yard. This white line damage to the hoof is caused by the cows fighting for their space.
DONT PUSH THE COWS TOO HARD IN THE YARD. At Stephen & Sandra's farm this is particularly important as the second herringbone is not openned until the person who gets the cows from the paddock arrives & shuts the cows in. Individual cows then choose to be milked in the second parlour rather than the first.....they then manoeuvre their way thru the other cows to get into position to enter the milking patform. Cows need space to move, to choose which side of the herringbone they want to be milked on. Cows also need plenty of space after milking to move out of the parlour. In this way cows & people have a calm pleasant milking without stress. The incidence of lameness is much reduced if cows are NOT hassled & pushed thru milking.
DONT start moving the backing gate until at least 6 rows have been milked.
DONT run the backing gate without looking what's happening out in the yard
ONLY run the backing gate in very short bursts
BEST to fit a timer on the backing gate switch
BEST to also have a bell fitted to the backing gate.

Friday, 19 June 2009

Excellent Farm Contractors should be Congratulated

This week I met an impressive young man on a Digger doing an amazingly professional job with extra ordinary skills. Meet Jamie Eastment of DK Eastment Groundwork contractors from Dorcester Dorset England.I was very impressed with his skilled workmanship.He made that heavy Digger glide like a Ballet dancer moving gracefully to music! He moved material about like he was icing a cake!
It was magic to watch.
I was so impressed with this young man that I spoke to him to congratulate him on his workmanship & skill. To my joy I met a pleasant young man who was so polite & easy to talk to about his work.
Stephen & Sandra Woof (at Hooke in Dorset) are members of the Realfarmers Discussion Group in Dorset. In the last 6 months a new twin Herringbone parlour has been built & kilometres of new tracks put in on the farm. Jamie Eastment has been involved from Day 1.

In the UK dairy industry we are losing dairy farmers fast. When you lose farmers you also lose support contractors & a whole raft of small businesses that support our industry. It will become increasingly difficult to find skilled people both on our farms & to support our businesses. The young Jamie Eastments of this world need to be part of our external business teams. BUT we have to look after them!!!!

It is so important to encourage our family members working on the farm,praise not only our staff BUT also credit our contractors for their workmanship & skill.
Stephen & Sandra tell me that Jamie has been terrific & a pleasure to work with...surprise!! surprise!!
I salute you Jamie you're a craftsman & one hell of a nice young man.
If you'd like to make comments about this blog then please do so in the comments section below. Start a conversation online about this blog

Wednesday, 10 June 2009

Pasture to Profit Blog goes live!

So what on earth is he (Tom) up to now?

You might well ask!!!
(Psss look out for the red 2CV on the lanes & back roads of Staffordshire).....its the driver you need to be concerned about not the 2CV which is manifique!!! Allo! Allo!

At every dairy farm discussion group thru out the have an amazing resource of farmer knowledge & experience. Lets say there are 15 farmers present at the on farm group meeting. Each farmer has at least 10 years the group has 150 years of experience, knowledge & skills as a powerful resource to tackle farm business opportunities & problems. A skillful facilitator/experienced consultant should be able to create a valuable learning experience which is both practical, profitable & fun.

In the UK "Pasture to Profit" network we have many groups meeting in their local districts. Lets say there are 20 such groups. We now have 20 X 150 = 3000 yrs of knowledge as a resource to build & grow profitable dairy farm businesses.

Around the world there are many very active low cost "pasture based" dairy farm discussion groups meeting regularly in their respective countries.

The stark reality is that there are very few "pasture based" dairy farmers.....we seriously need to not only STICK TOGETHER but we should be WORKING TOGETHER!

That's impossible without the internet.

Now I can hear you saying........Emails are okay've got to be joking!!!

So what about Blogs......and Twitter?????? OMGOD!!!! Did he mention Tweets.......Tom has clearly been into the "Happy Pappy tablets again"

This is really smart technology.....we cant afford not to use it!!

I'm sure Graham Alexander Bell must have been horrified that telephone users used the phone NOT only for business but also to have "chats" terrible can you get?

Did you refuse to learn drive a car because there were hoons on the roads? Ofcourse NOT.
By the way look out if you drive in Staffordshire, England for a "Older Hoon" driving a red & white 2CV "Deux Chevaux manifique" yelling ..."Allo! Allo!"...... & looking slightly mad!!!

To succeed in this world you need a "profound sense of the ridiculous".

Look at what Heather Gorringe & husband Phil have achieved at with her fantastic gardening podcasts & blog. Heather recently completed a Nuffield looking at the development of the Web & the role of social media..she is an inspiration to us all & has been extremely helpful & encouraging to me in setting up this Blog
We need to network. Lets Twitter & Blog worldwide so our businesses prosper!!

Tuesday, 9 June 2009

Great Spring Grazing......but?

Great Grazing Spring ……but?

2009 has to be one of the best grazing springs ever. Dry conditions have meant that utilization has been brilliant all spring. So the quality of pasture offered to milking cows has never been better. If you hit the 1500kgs residuals at every grazing then the regrowth & quality is second to none.

However the soil temperatures have in general been cold often up to 2 degrees C colder than normal….this has meant periods of poor growth & lots of Pasture Wedge Graphs with deficit holes appearing, when growth was less than demand.
Growth has been stop/ start…..monitoring the pasture covers & Wedge Graphs has been crucial to seeing these events before they impacted on feed supply.

Soils thru out the country are abnormally dry. Soils are already very hard. This could easily turn into a dry summer with hotter temperatures being predicted. If this is the unfortunate case then don’t get caught on short rotations. Long summer rotations protect pastures from damage in a hot dry summer.
Maybe England wants a rainy summer (given that the Ashes series is on this year!!!)

Rotations need to be set by watching the three leaf development of the ryegrass tillers. Pasture covers is a feed budgeting tool…….rotation lengths need to be complementary to the third leaf development on the ryegrass tiller. Wait for the third leaf!!!

Calibrating Plate Meters
Lastly, after running a number of “Plate meter “training days…I see that a large number of Plate meters are using the wrong formula. This is especially so in newly purchased electronic meters.
The formula should be
(Height X 125 + 640)
If need be refer to the makers website to set the formula.

Great Grazing Spring ……but?