There is an old Wiltshire saying - “When the wind is in the northeast on 21 March, he will stay there until 21 June.”
No grass will grow in these low temperatures and drying winds. It is usually accompanied by a blackthorn winter, when the hedges are decked with prolific blackthorn blossom.
This is what we are experiencing at the moment and although cows are on their second rotation of the paddocks, regrowth is very slow and we have to buffer feed.
Most of this is being bought in and judging by the price rise, there must be a lot of people in the same boat as me.
We have just finished calving the 60 spring group; of the 80 autumn calvers, 60 are so far in-calf. Any of the remaining 20 that are not in-calf will move to the spring group.
My milk buyer First Milk has moved to testing and notifying the results daily and this is proving useful in monitoring how our feed regime is working.
An area I’d like to address is the urea levels, but I struggle to find anyone with any knowledge who can explain their volatility, as this may help us to reduce the protein inputs and also our carbon footprint.
Our top-yielding cows are doing 50 litres and although Piers Badnell of LIC recommends pushing cows hard on the grazing and suffering a milk drop in the quest for higher-quality grass, I am reluctant to push them too hard, as they are not in good body condition and I am concerned about the quality of eggs they are producing for the imminent breeding cycle.
Reading about the problem of the Glanbia milk producers, it sounds as if it will be bad for some producers who have set up cashflows based on heavy spring milk production.
In this country, a number of farmers have been given notice to quit by their milk buyers for various reasons - ranging from geographical location, refusal to accept new codes of practice and quality issues.
This has brought home the fact that the good old Milk Marketing Board no longer exists, neither do its three babies, the three co-ops.
In the bad old days, these producers would have turned to one of these as a buyer of last resort.
They are astounded there is no longer the escape hatch of an open door; First Milk is only taking on producers in the geographical areas they require if they have a market for the milk.
It is in a very strong position after many rocky years; the success due mainly to brilliant management of the chief executive Shelagh Hancock.
We now sit at the non-dedicated milk price league with a stable and increasing milk price.