It’s been a tough spring for all types of farms, with the main root of problems stemming from weather.

It’s hard to ring or meet farmers and chat to them these days, as a lot of them are under pressure; be it financial through having to spend money on importing feed into farms, or dealing with the extra workload that this spring has brought.

I once heard a man talking about sheepdogs and saying, “if you have good facilities, you can get away with a middling dog. But if you have middling facilities you need a good dog”.

The same conclusion can be drawn towards farming in general.

When we can get dairy cows or suckler cows and calves out to grass soon after calving and keep them there, then we can get away with less slurry storage, less winter feeding and less labour.

But when we witness springs like we’ve just had, then those good facilities are very much essential.

Poor facilities impact the physical and mental health of farmers, and very few farmers can put their hand up and say there isn’t an area of their farm they would like to improve upon.

It’s very hard for farmers to dig into their bank accounts and spend money with the level of uncertainty surrounding agriculture.

In the space of a short few years, we have seen the banding rates for dairy cows change, as well as the drop in the upper limit in derogations down to 220kg N/ha.

A lot of farmers I talk to acknowledge that they both need and want more slurry storage, etc, but if it’s a case that they will have to cut back on numbers, why would they invest now just for it to lie empty and unused in the future.


I’ve featured some brilliant calf sheds in the buildings pages this spring, and all these farmers acknowledge that it’s part of the cost of dairying, but if increased pressure through stock cuts are imminent, will farmers continue to do this?