Eating grass

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This cow is a Jersey cross Holstein. So her mother was a Holstein and father a Jersey.

Jerseys are great grass grazers and will strip a field bare unlike their black and white cousins who are more picky eaters. How they manage to graze the ground so hard I am unsure of but could it be something to do with this?

If you look carefully you can see the cows tongue sweeping the grass as she eats. I can only assume it helps her rip the grass up but Ive never really noticed if all the cows do it or just the Jersey cross breds. If anyone out there knows the answer then please send it in to john@thebigcowblack.co.uk and I’ll publish your explanation.

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Posted in Grazing, The Farm | Leave a comment

May is July

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http://www.thebigcowblack.co.uk/blog/2017/05/10/may-is-july/

It hasn’t been very spring like in the last month despite the sunshine. The cool dry easterly wind has persisted for over a month bringing little rain and taking the moisture from the ground.

Grazing conditions have been superb for the cows and they have milked well so far. But grass growth has been slow, partly due to the cold evenings but the largest problem is the lack of rain.

This years April showers didn’t arrive to provide the warm damp conditions that make spring growth so virile. Instead the grass has grown steadily right through the season so far and been easy to manage.

In a normal spring I would be expecting to take fields from the rotation as growth speeds up and the cows are unable to eat the grass quickly enough. This year however the rotation has remained the same – until now that is.

But I’m not about to take ground out of the rotation, I’m about to add some in. In the first time in my living memory we are going into drought conditions in May. I  can recall plenty of dry springs but none quite like this one.

This is the rainfall from March 1st until May 9th.

After a couple of days rain early in this period there has been little since and that is after a dry Winter. The chart underneath the rain denotes the air pressure which has been high right through, going hand in hand with dry weather. When this will change is anyone’s guess.  but I’m playing safe and have added a silage field back into the rotation.

It’s too tall to graze properly but it should add another three or four days grazing and give the driest pastures more time to recover and grow. There is currently 7 days grass in front of the cows to graze but after that its looking a bit patchy. The last few days has altered things dramatically and the grazed pasture are not recovering like they should.

If you looked at the farm you’d probably think it all looks green and lush and think I’m panicking. Maybe I am but the reality is beneath the surface. I’ve dug the turf up in various place across the farm and the soil is very dry. The next forty days will provide the longest days of the year and most daylight hours. Without rain that will crucify the ground and kill grass growth.

The calendar says May but the ground is looking like July.

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Posted in Grazing, The Farm, The weather | Leave a comment

When things go well

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This is what happens on those rare occasions when animals do what you want. Yesterday they ran through the mobile race like a dream, as we dosed them with wormer.

They then ran straight across a silage field as directed, finding the gate at the other end into the holding pen and waited patiently until we arrived.

Five minutes later we walked them quietly along the track, up the road and into the field.

The whole operation took less than an hour without mishap.

Amazing.

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Tardy turn out

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Rather frustratingly, there are still over 100 animals yet to be turned out. Whilst the cows here have been grazing for over a month now there is still two groups of heifers that are yet to be turned out, as my tenancy doesn’t start until the end of the month.

Whatever my feelings about this late start might be, there is little that can be done about it as the landlord insists he is following the rules laid down by the ministry. Which in this case, demand a months grace between sheep grazing during the winter and my heifers grazing during the Summer.

This leaves me starting the grazing season on the first of May, two months after the grass starts growing. This is way too late for my liking, so the bulk of the heifers have already been turned out onto cow pastures in late March. This in turn means that a larger area of pasture is needed which will taken from silage ground. Consequently silage that would have been made by the farm is made three miles away at my Summer grazing instead which extra requires tractors and trailers to retrieve it during harvest. Not ideal but c’est la vie.

Where does that leave the other hundred or so heifers? Well one bunch are still in a shed at the other end of the village and will have to be transported to the Summer grazing on May 1st and the others are in a building just down the road. There is a patch of grass next door to them that will keep them quiet for a week until they can join the others.

 

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Lawn mower pit stop

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http://www.thebigcowblack.co.uk/blog/2017/04/24/lawn-mower-pit-stop/

Is there anything worse than one old lawn mower.?

Yes most definitely….. two old lawnmowers.

I, or rather we, or rather George has successfully fixed, bodged and mended our ailing Countax mower for the last three years but a couple of weeks ago the drive gave up and the quote to repair was too much to bare. Faced with a 600 hundred quid repair bill I took a trip to town, to price up a replacement. With the cheapest version coming in at just over 2 Grand and an exact replacement at over 4, I took a trip to Mum and Dads to borrow their push along.

Having mowed the lawns with Mum and Dads push mower I soon realised that the grass was growing faster than I was cutting it and an alternative needed to be found. That’s when father in law came to the rescue with his disused ride on Hayter mower. At last a solution – or so I thought. But there were one or two minor problems that needed addressing first.

Firstly there were four flat tyres, then one flat battery and then a hole in the fuel tank but other than that it was like new. Well for a bit anyway.

It wasn’t long before our great green, free mowing solution decided it wouldn’t go forward without the cutting deck being in gear. ‘How weird,’ I thought to myself. When I opened the lid I could see the engine block was moving around more than the wheels themselves.  All the fixing bolts had dropped out.

It is at this point that I was beginning to wonder whether the cheapest and quickest solution would be to buy a new mower.  Would Father in laws cast off become an unviable project, consuming my time, money and my least abundant of assets, patience.

I’m not sure as of yet, but for the sake of getting the grass mown, George and I spent the afternoon lying underneath the mower getting dowsed by passing showers. Alongside his engineering skills, George has now surely learnt my full and extensive vocabulary of profanities which were generous applied throughout the afternoon.

As things stand our ‘new mower is equipped with an old tractor battery and a temporary fuel tank strapped to the back of the seat. What could possibly go wrong?

 

 

 

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Posted in Accidents and brakedowns, Doh, Machinery | Leave a comment