September 2021

Two whole months into starting my placement with ForFarmers has gone in a flash. Over the last month my independence and confidence has grown allowing me to thrive and overcome challenges I didn’t think I would face at such an early stage of my placement. I have had the opportunity to visit a range of areas in the country that I hadn’t been to before. I have followed the sea from Abersoch situated on the Llyn Peninsula in North Wales then as far down as Totnes, Devon visiting a range of dairy farms in-between.

September started off with working with the ForFarmers graphic designer to produce the 2022 Corporate Calendar. The corporate calendar is something the Account Managers, Specialists and Traders can give to their customer that they can hang in farm offices, parlors or kitchens for the next calendar year. Finding images which represent ForFarmers UK and what we do was a fun job as it meant that I also got to learn more about the company’s values along the way.

Weighing calves on farm

Afbeelding: selfie with a calf from my north wales weighing trip

On Thursday 9th I headed up to the Midlands to meet Amy Wilson a Youngstock Specialist at Ivy House Farm to complete monthly calf weighing. There was a large number of calves to get through so by working together we became efficient with weighing the separate groups of calves. That afternoon we weighed well over 100 calves; each had varying weights due to some being up to 3 months old. It was very physically demanding moving the calves around from pen to pen. Also, trying to get them to stand still on the scale so we could take an accurate reading was a challenging as stepping onto something which is a bright metallically colour can be quite scary.

After we discussed the weights suggesting what factors influence target growth rates and why some calves may not have achieved their target daily live weight gains.

The following morning we were up early so that we could get to the next farm and crack on with the weighing. Off we headed to Dunstall Lodge where we weight beef calves ranging from 1 to 3 months old. They were very temperamental and acted up around the scales as it was ‘new’ to them and they were not used to being weighed. We will be heading back to Dunstall Lodge in 4 months’ time to re weigh the calves. This will allow us to accurately monitor if they are achieving their daily live weigh gain and staying on track. Furthermore, the weighing helps to see if the milk powders they are using are suited to the calves and if they are up taking and utilisng the nutrients from the whey based or skimmed based powders effectively.

Visiting a maize trial site

On Tuesday 14th September I had the opportunity to visit the KWS maize trail site in Lydney, Gloustershire. Myself along with a handful of the ForFarmers Forage Specialists gathered around some tea and coffee to be welcomed to the KWS site.

We then headed out to the field where we received an insightful talk from John Morgan, who is a maize sales manager from KWS. John spoke through different varieties of maize and explained which were earlier maturing and late maturing. We discussed which varieties are suited to the soil type in Lydney, Gloucester which sits on the west bank of the River Severn in the Forest of Dean District. Typically the land nearby and in the surrounding areas are a sandy loam soil making it suitable for certain maize varieties.

Maize trial site

Settling into life in Bristol

Afbeelding: Running bristol half marathon

Since moving to Bristol in August I have enjoyed weekly runs around the Clifton Downs and other green parks. This gets me set up for my day at work. My mentor Cara Green heard about my running hobby and told me about the Bristol half marathon on 19th September. So on the 20th August I completed the registration form and with a month to go until the half marathon I upped my training. In the blind of an eye I woke up on the Sunday morning and headed down to Millennium Square. All the half marathon runners were set off in waves. I was in wave two, we gathered around the start line around 9am and off the gun went at 9:30 and I was away. 25,000 people took part in either the half marathon, 10km or fun run that day so everybody’s moral was super high. I placed 210th out of 2317 women who took part in the half marathon and completed it in a time of 1 hour 51 minutes. It was my first half marathon and certainly a good way to see a bit more of Bristol!

Out on farm with Youngstock Technician, Eliza Boyce

Bright and early on Monday morning myself and Eliza set off towards Devon where we visited a farm in Totnes to complete some more weighing. Currently on this farm they are feeding the youngstock with our VITAMILK Classic milk powder. As a result we discussed the milk powder with the farmer to see if he was happy with the product we are supplying. These calves had previously been weighed so we were there to re weigh them and check target growth rates, look at the overall health of the calves so that they weren’t suffering from any diseases such as scour or pneumonia.

We then headed to our second farm visit of the day which was situated just a couple miles outside of Barnstaple in North Devon. We weighed five beef calves from each pen so we could gather an average weigh for each pen group which all had a similar date of birth.

Visiting farms in Wales

Afbeelding: calf image at a dairy farm in abersoch 2

My last week in September was busy to say the least. On Monday myself and Amy Wilson headed up to Abersoch to Ty Newydd Farm who run a 150 dairy herd. We weighed a range of calf breeds from Hollstein cross Monties to Fresian cross Monties. On average the calves which were born in late August had an average weight of 63kg.

Fferm Gwyndy was the second farm visit of the day. We weighed on 50 dairy heifer calves with an age range of 2 days to 1 month.

Wednesday morning we headed back up to North Wales with the weighing scales to weigh another 50 dairy heifers at Glynllifon Agricultural College. The data gathered showed that the calves’ daily live weight gains were on target and overall health of the calves weighed was high. The calves born late August had an average daily live weight gain of 53kg. This suggests the calves are taking up sufficient colostrum at birth to boost their immunity levels. Therefore, they are able to effectively utilise the proteins for growth and development from the milk powder they are consuming.

It’s been a hectic month of calf weighing but I have enjoyed working with the Youngstock Team. My diary is now filling for October and I am looking forward to another busy month.   

Afbeelding: Josie signature 2