Archive: Season overview John Owen

Published 21 November 14

This page has been archived and no longer updated. more info

“How do you summarise a season like this?” asks John Owen, who milks 250 spring calving crossbreds, yielding 5,200 litres and grazing 88ha at Gelli Aur College in Carmarthenshire. This herd is run alongside a further 250 cow autumn calving herd producing 6,500 litres.

It’s probably one of the best most of us can remember, and the grass is still growing at 26kg/day. To date, we have grown 14.13 tonnes DM/ha, with more to add before we measure the closing covers.

Generally, grazing conditions have been very good all season, but we have endured wet conditions for the last month. Things have dried up a bit now, and cows are back to grazing all day instead of operating an on/off management policy.

In-calf heifers are still out by day and night, grazing in 12-hour blocks, and, if conditions allow, will remain out well into the New Year. We’ve got 75 acres plus 3,000kg DM covers to get through before the spring. They did damage the odd grazing block during the wet weather, but, because they were constrained to small areas, remedial work will be minimal.

For next year, it will be more of the same (please!) although it is doubtful that we can get such a good two years running. The way the milk price is going at the moment, it looks like we will have to challenge the cows to produce more from forage. Decisions on how much supplement to feed will depend on the price of milk in the spring. We have already reduced the concentrate input to the autumn calvers by 2kg/head/day. Grass is the cheapest feed and good utilisation will enable us to reduce our cost of production during this period of low milk price.