Bristol bridge

May 2022

A day out with Forage Specialist Gary Sanderson

I enjoyed a day out earlier this month, dual callings with Gary Sanderson. The main focus of the day was analysing crops of hybrid barley which have recently become more popular.

We visited several farms all of which had planted crops of barley. It was interesting to see how some crops were not at the same growth stages, even when they had both been sown at the same time. We discussed reasons as to why this might be, one being soil compaction resulting in less oxygen being readily available to the plants which are photosynthesising. Another reason was the fact that it has been so dry for many weeks so there is not enough water available for the plants to uptake.

From the day out with Gary I managed to get some content for our social media channels. This allowed me to create an Instagram reel, so that our viewers can see what hybrid barley looks like and what Forage Specialist's get up to during their out on farm. Video reels are a great tool to use as they are quick and engaging.

hybrid barley

Birmingham Half Marathon

I have been keeping up with my running since completing the Bristol half marathon back in September. On the 2nd of May I ran the great Birmingham half marathon and completed it in a time of 1 hour 53 minutes. It was a challenging course with more hills than I expected but I felt a great sense of achievement once I had finished it.

One thing I have learned since starting my placement with ForFarmers back in August is that you really can do anything if you put your mind to it. I have my colleagues to thank for the encouragement and support they gave me towards doing more timed race events.

Visiting Shrewsbury livestock market and a dairy customer

I also spent a day out with Ruminant Specialist, Bethan Till. It was an early start as we needed to arrive at her local livestock market for 8am. We had an enjoyable and productive morning speaking to local farmers, and events like this enable Bethan to network. Furthermore, we watched young heifers being sold off for prices ranging from £1,400 to £2,300.

During the afternoon we headed to a dairy farm who milk 500 Holsteins through a 15 a-side rapid exit parlour. The herd is housed between 7 cubicle sheds which allows enough lying space for each cow. This was a very insightful visit as we discussed how the farmer could increase his butterfat levels. We looked at his current maize crop which is being fed in the diet and discussed maize chop length and how that can affect butterfat levels.

Josie with Bethan

The main focus of the visit was to look at his youngstock housing and feeding protocols as they are struggling with scours. From seeing the setup, we discussed how it might be better suited to use a skimmed based milk powder rather than a whey based powder. There is less chance of scours when using a skimmed based milk powder as it keeps the calves fuller for longer, as it takes up to 12 hours to be digested whereas whey based powders can be digested within two hours. Whey based powders typically have to be fed multiple times due to this rapidly digestible aspect. After the visit, I went away and designed them a youngstock rearing protocol they could follow step by step in order to get the best growth rates from their youngstock.

Celebrations at Buckingham Palace

A couple of years ago I completed my gold Duke of Edinburgh award across the Brecon Beacons over the course of five days. It was a tough, challenging yet enjoyable experience. Reflecting back on it, I am pleased I put in the work to accomplish this achievement.

Due to the global pandemic the award ceremony was postponed for a number of years however, I recently recieved an invitation to Buckingham Palace on the 20th May. My mum and I travelled to London and we were blessed with a beautiful, sunny day. We were directed to the palace gardens where we gathered for an afternoon of speeches and light refreshments. My award was presented by HRH Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex. He spent time speaking with all of the award holders asking about the positive impact that our Duke of Edinburgh experience has had on us. I spent the rest of the weekend enjoying the sights of London which included going up the Shard and an evening with friends to celebrate our awards.

DOE award

As May draws to a close

I am looking forward to getting out on farm in June and hearing about farmers' opinions on their first cut of grass and how their herd's have adapted to summer grazing. Furthermore, I am in the process of writing my placement project, this has been a stimulating and interesting task to undertake. I am investigating the efficacy of a new product and whether it helps to target certain bacteria within cells which in turn aids the reduction of somatic cell counts in UK dairy herds.

Afbeelding: Josie signature 2