We finally started our cereal harvest in July after being a week or two late. Our first crop to harvest is the winter barley grown for malting under contract to Molston Coors in Burton on Trent who produce many well known beers and lagers.At the beginning of harvest there is always a certain amount of trepidation as to how well the machinery and grainstores will perform even after their winter servicing . Fortunately all performed well helped by ideal conditions we were able to harvest the barley although it was a little hot . Thank goodness for airconditioning in modern combines and tractors. The grain was alittle too dry coming in at 11.00 -12.00 % moisture when it can be up to 14.50 % when it leaves the farm. The yields were what I would describe as average with quite a lot of small grains probably as a result of all those frosts and dry weather in April.
We have had an abundance of grass to deal with as the cattle struggle to keep on top of it .All the silage pits are full and we are now making silage bales and hay when the weather allows. Will this mean we are in for a long and hard winter I wonder ?
On the cattle front we have had a disappointing time regarding bovine Tb. We had to retest three of our milking cows only to find that they were inconclusive for the second time and so had to leave the farm for the abbatoir. A post mortem examination showed that there was no evidence of Tb but that they may have been exposed to Tb. Very demoralising for us all as now we have limited markets as to where we can sell cattle and also at a much reduced price.We also now have to retest all the cattle again in September. The Government are trialling a vaccine for cattle against Tb as lets hope it proves to be successful and we can finally keep this disease under control.
Looking through the farm diary from 100 hundred years ago July was also very hot and dry with many crops failing .My great Grand Father even had to sell some lambs due to the lack of feed which he points out he made a considerable financial loss to him ! It seems that even 100 hundred years ago there were weather extremes.
One aspect of agriculture that the industry is trying to address is our poor Health and Safety record. In the last twelve months there have been 41 fatalities. The causes range from being struck by moving vehicles ,killed by injuries by livestock and finally being killed by machinery accidents. There is currently a campaign Keep Harvest Safe with much support and advice so lets hope we can have a safe harvest in the field and on the road. I would urge all drivers of machinery on the roads especially country lanes to drive carefully .Many members of the public have commented to me how intimidating large tractors can be when coming towards you.
Happy harvesting and Keep Safe
By: James Cossins
Sponsored by: Trethowans