Speaking to customers on a daily basis is what I love about my job so being given the chance to go out on farm for the day with Mark Causey to see first-hand what challenges farmers are facing was a great opportunity.
A cup of tea in a warm kitchen discussing costings was where we started – the further reduction in the milk price being a big worry. I was shown the herd, what they were being fed, the silage/maize clamps and the hutches that the calves were being reared in. At the second farm there was another welcoming hot drink around the kitchen table and the farmers telling us about the progression of their current planning application for a wind turbine.
We were then able to call on a farm where 3 DeLaval VMS robots had recently been installed and the farmer was proud to show us the set up. Whilst he and Mark were immersed in the computer, analysing results, it was fascinating for me to watch through the window as the cows were coming and going through the system, being directed either into the robots or back into the feeding/resting areas when they had already been milked. Mark was explaining the importance of making the feed as palatable as possible so the cows want to go in to be milked.
At the last farm we visited I was able to see the traditional set up of cows in the yard waiting to be milked, I saw a calf that had just been born where the mother was 16 years old. I got to hold a lamb which was a couple of days old and walk amongst some heifers, see their steers and their calves which were being reared in the barn.
A big thank you to all the farmers I saw who went out of their way to show me around.