It’s been a trying few weeks at the dairy to say the least. The cows came in from the cold early November and it was soon apparent this year’s silage crop wasn’t going to be the best. Milk yields dropped pretty quickly and they’ve been on a downward spiral ever since. As it was such a wet and cold start to the spring, the first opportunity we had to make the winter feed wasn’t until mid-June. For silage production the grass must be cut and then left to dry (at least overnight) before being wrapped into bales. It wouldn’t have been possible to do it in May when the grass was young, rich in protein and sugars, and ideal for high-yielding milk production. Not only would the grass not have been suitably dry but getting tractors out on the fields to cut and wrap would have caused some serious damage to the topsoil. Once we had a few weeks of sunshine and everything dried out we could make the winter feed but with grass that was a few weeks older and not quite as nutrient-rich, hence the predicament we’re in now.
Our TB test has come and gone… the dreaded blood tests with their inevitable culling of 5-10% of the herd. Sadly Clara has tested positive, as well as one of our beef calves. They’re leaving the farm on Monday before going on to be culled for meat. We’re not sure yet if we’ll be given confirmation as to whether they actually had TB or whether it was a false-positive from the blood tests. It’s always disheartening to see a cow go, and Clara was only with us for a very brief time but things could have been worse. On previous year’s blood tests we’ve lost 3-4 cows, which really put a serious dent in the business financially and emotionally. However, there are some further frustrations this time, as Lyra’s test results came back inconclusive. We won’t be able to use her milk until she’s passed another test in eight weeks’ time, and five other cattle’s tests have to be re-submitted because their test samples didn’t work! It’s all a bit of a mess really, the sooner the bovine TB vaccine is ready for mass use the better we think.
All in all, it means we’re extremely low on milk at the moment and we’ve had to suspend a lot of milk orders, and these testing times have been compounded by the news of another failed attempt to get Belinda (our most productive young cow) in calf again. She’s had treatment for her fertility issues but it hasn’t been successful and unfortunately, she won’t be a productive member of the herd for much longer. She’s producing about 12 litres a day at the moment which has been invaluable during these milk shortages, but once her yield drops further in a few months’ time, we’re sad to say she’ll have to go for beef too.
But all is not lost, life must go on and we’re delighted to see that Jocie has calved a week earlier than expected, producing a lovely Ayrshire-cross daughter who’ll be destined to join the milkers one day. Hopefully, we’ve reached our lowest point and things will start to pick up as soon as Jocie is producing plenty of milk. And once Clara and the positive-testing calf have left the farm, we’ll be able to buy some more cows from another organic dairy. Fingers crossed we can supply all our customers again soon…we’ll get through this!
Christmas and New Year have fallen on very favourable days of the week for us this year. Our weekly schedule won’t be disrupted and all delivery & collection dates will remain the same over the holidays. Please don’t forget to email us and cancel your order if you’re going to be away over Christmas. Alternatively, if you’re planning on having family and friends over and wish to increase an order, please give plenty of notice. Whilst we may not be able to meet everyone’s dairy order at the moment, we do have plenty of ice cream left over from batches made earlier in the year and there’s a whole chest freezer full of frozen beef and veal, including several roasting joints. Please click on the link below to see what’s in stock.