The Land Girl

THE LAND GIRL DAIRY FARMING IN WARTIME By Clyde Higgs The enterprise and energy of this author are very familiar to the farming world. By writing this article lie has added one more to the many kindnesses he has done the Land Army. NCE upon a time before most of you realised which end of a cow gave milk, dairy farming was on very different lines from those of to-day. Let me tell you a bit about my farm which is typical of many of those in War­ wickshire except that it has a lot of light land whilst much of the remainder in the county is heavy clay. I started off, a con­verted townsman, with the usual mixed farm, but circumstances, the persuasion of the so-called experts and a tendency to take the easiest way caused tome turn into a specialist dairy farmer, really a farmer with dog and stick as his main implements. It was not very interesting a short burst of work at hay-making time and then a comparatively serene existence for the rest of the year, the greatest excitement being the regular arrival of the cake lorry carrying food from foreign parts. The measure of a dairy farmer’s success was the size of his cake bill. Of course it wasn't really farming, the amount of land one had bore no relation to the output. Well, sometime before the war I thought things over and came to the conclusion that it was futile to have a lot of land and get nothing from it so I started to plough it all again. It has been a lot of work and worry but there is no doubt that the results are worth the trouble. To-day I have more animals and produce more milk than I did at the start of war. I sell a lot of crops off for human consumption, I employ more labour and if 1 could get it should have more still. Cultivating Cows You want to know about wartime dairying so I will tell you something of how we goon. The most important item in milk production is the animal. All the methods and food in the world won’t turn a bad animal into a good one. No doubt as you travel the countryside it will amaze you that some of us farmers at­tempt to get milk out of the things you see in the fields. I started picking up local stuff and with it bought every kind of trouble, but later Ion settled down to pedigree Ayrshires. The foundation stock came from Scotland where there are larce breeds of attested cattle. The herd is self- contained. numbering over 650, it has been attested since 1937. All the calves arc dehorned at birth, the cattle judges do not like it at all, my reply is that you do not get milk out of their horns. I had the usual type of milking si ed but the wastage was so high that -for sometime past I have used outside milk­ing bails with satisfaction. One farm is put aside for calving, a kind of maternity home with thirty private boxes. When a cow is near calving she goes into one of them and does not outcome until she has passed the blood test for abortion, fourteen days after calving. Abortion is the terror of all milk producers and to keep a herd free from it is a continuous and bitter battle but the results are worth the effort. The calf is reared on sixty gallons of milk overspread about three months. After the first month milk substitute is added. By that time she starts to eat hay. oats and beans and when her allow­ance of milk is finished she goes to an­other farm until she reaches turning-out age. From then the animal is not inside again except for calving. The Beneficent Bail The milking bail is a clever invention and apart from its labour saving aspect, it has avery beneficial effect on the Inland. the usual type of cowshed all the liquid, the valuable part of the manure, goes down the drain and much of the solid is wasted through lying about in loose heaps. With a bail the manure is back onto the land straightaway and in addition I use all the straw I can produce as bedding for the cows during winter. The milk yield is not so high as indoors but it seems tome that a lower yield with a longer life is better than a short and merry one to which I was accustomed in the cowshed, neither do the animals have any illness. As I write this, the only invalid on the place is one old bull who has a crack in his foot. Feeding is the biggest problem and 1 grow all kinds of crops. The deficiency in homegrown food is protein which we used to buy very cheaply as a residue from oil seeds imported for other pur­poses such as linseed oil. Beans, peas and silage produce protein. On my farm 2 March. 1944
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