Cold mornings having effect in Cumbria

Published 9 October 15

George Brown is herd manager at Cairnhead Farm in Ainstable, Cumbria. The herd of 390 spring calving cows consisting mostly of New Zealand Friesian, with some Jersey Crosses, with yields of 490kg MS (5,500-6,000l) per year. At an elevation of about 600 feet, the milking platform is 120ha, with a further 60ha used for youngstock and silage ground.


Average Farm Cover                      2,620kg DM/ha     

Pre-grazing cover                           3,700kg DM/ha       

7-day grass growth                         58kg DM/ha 

Demand                                         48kg DM/ha

Concentrate feed level                    3kg/cow/day


Average yield                                    18 litres/cow

                                                         4.89% fat

                                                         4.1% protein


“We’ve been very luck with conditions, warm with the right amount of moisture, and as a result, grass growth has been excellent this autumn. Over the past week or so it’s been noticeably cooler in the morning and day-length is shortening, so I’m expecting growth to come crashing down pretty quickly in the next week,” says George.

“At the moment, we’re ahead of our grass budget and are on a 40-day round. We’re aiming to take about 2,100kg DM/ha through the winter. Last year we took 1,800kg and we were a bit tight in the spring.

“The plan is to house the cows a bit earlier than last year (instead of the end of November, the end of the second week) and get them out a bit earlier. We’re calving about a week earlier than last year (cows from 18 February and heifers from 10 February) and have more cows, so I’m keen to make sure we have enough grass going through the winter.

“At the moment, cows are just on grass and concentrate and we’ll keep them on that for a couple more weeks. Before we house fully, we’ll look to house them all at night and switch on to silage at this point.

“We weigh the calves born this spring and the bottom quarter are housed a bit early but the rest will go into December on just grass.”