Shropshire Star

Shropshire Farming Talk: We are always planning ahead

With the lighter days appearing the cows have welcomed the return to grass which has still shown some growth over winter.

Farming columnist Bronwen Bray, Head of Walford Campus at Walford College

Milk production has stayed constant with feed costs remaining lower due to the good quality silage from last year and the addition of home grown fodder beet. Milk quality has stayed really strong with high levels of protein and fat.

As with any task on the farm we are always planning ahead. We have been reviewing how we manage the over winter period and looked at the last three years. We have managed good grass growth and very quick recovery along with increased dry periods mid year in June.

Therefore, a shift from our current calving block which starts in early September to a mid September start should support best use of the grass and keep bought in feed costs low.

As the majority of our grazing area has a high proportion of sand it drains well and warms up quickly in Spring. Therefore, the cows can go out very early spring.

As one of the members of the UK land based colleges sustainability group we have been looking at reducing our carbon footprint. There is a very close relationship with the measures we are taking to reduce our costs, increase the health of the animals and reduce wastage with the concurrent reduction of our carbon footprint.

The conception rates have been excellent this year.

We think the shift is due to the strong focus on the calf and youngstock management over the past four years.

These replacements are now forming the majority of the herd with only a few Holsteins left.

As always, the team are busy with supporting student duties and practical sessions after Christmas and the first of the lambs have arrived.

The students and staff enjoyed going to LAMMA. This has led to a number of great discussions about the amazing new technology available in the industry, low carbon fuel alternatives and the ever-changing innovations that are taking place to improve efficiencies and reduce wastage.

In summer, the level 3 students will be able to take this discussion further on the planned visit to JCB after their exams.

Our summer open morning is planned for June 15 and we are always pleased to see new faces on site.

If you would like more information about our courses, providing work placements for students or how you can work with us, contact us on

Bronwen Bray, Walford College

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