Well, seems like summer is finally over and autumn has arrived with vengeance. Though given that we’ve had pretty much four months of sunshine with little by way of meaningful rain I don’t think that we can complain too much.

On the whole it has been a good harvest this year which is just as well with the way things are looking more widely and pretty much all input costs going up quite markedly.

Read more: John Harvey's successful month...

The silage pits maybe aren’t as full looking as they have been on previous years but appearances can be deceptive as the %Dry Matter (DM) on all three cuts has been quite high which means a little goes a long way.

In fact, the third cut which only had 24 hours of wilt is the driest of all at 42%. On balance the third cut was probably the best of the cuts as the grass was nice and leafy unlike the first cut which was a bit over mature due to the bad weather back in May.

With grass starting to get a bit tight at the beginning of August we put most of the silage fields to grazing after third cut, to give everything a fresher bite to eat. With the remaining two fields getting baled to tidy them up the other week. It is amazing how a few hours carting in silage bales makes you think that maybe putting it in the pit would have been a simpler idea!

Read more: Field Margins, John Harvey ensures importance on the cows diet

The start of August also saw us harvest the wholecrop wheat. Despite increasing the rate at which we were feeding last year’s wholecrop we didn’t quite make it to the back of the pit, which meant there wasn’t quite the space we’d intended for this year’s crop. Therefore, we had quite a bit more standing wheat to combine than we had expected. While in most respects that was a good thing it did take a little bit of thought to work out how we were going to store this unpredicted bonanza.

In the end we split the grain in two: with the drier stuff (c17% moisture) getting bruised and treated with Propcorn; while the moister grain was crimped and treated with Crimpsafe300 and ensiled. The plan is to work through the Propcorn treated wheat first as hopefully the crimped material will be more stable.

The weather also meant that we had no trouble getting the straw dry enough for baling so we should now have more than enough straw to see us through the winter. The only drawback being that we’ve had to put a lot of it in a shed we normally house youngstock in over the winter, so we’ll just have to hope that they get to stay out at grass for a bit yet!

Our final bit of harvest was the field beans that we combined last week. These had looked a bit ropey earlier in the year and we hadn’t really held out much hope of getting a decent crop. In the end though we got just over two tonne per acre which while not as good as some of the previous years, was definitely acceptable. We hope to get them crimped and ensiled with brewers draft later this week.

With the fine weather we also managed to get some grass reseeds done in pretty much ideal conditions. Unfortunately, one of the fields did get a visit from some in-calf heifers that had burst a fence, although thankfully it doesn’t look like they have done too much damage.

As I mentioned in my previous article staffing has been a bit of an issue so we’ve reduced the herd by around 50 cows, mainly by bringing forward culling decisions. This means that we have three fewer sides to milk in the parlour saving around 30 minutes a milking. While that might not sound like a huge time saving it has made a big difference especially on the evening milking which now seems to fly by.

Normally there is an expectation that the yields from the rest of the cows will increase as the shed gets quieter but it was difficult for us to see a difference as we slimmed down during the really hot spell at the start of August, when the yields were depressed a bit by heat stress.

We’re now starting to see our normal seasonal change in milk quality with butterfat and protein both rising as the milk volume slips back. Back in June we were doing 42 litres/cow at 3.75%BF and 3.24%P, but more recently we’ve struggled to get above 39litres but at 4.1%BFand 3.40%P. The advantage being that we will get a slight premium if our average protein is above 3.4% for the month.

Back in my last article I mentioned that one day we had three sets of multiple births including a set of triplets. It turned out that these were part of a larger trend as over a period of 28 calvings there were eight sets of multiple births which works out at 28%. I looked back to 9-12 months previous to see if I could see a reason but unfortunately nothing of note was apparent.

It was Premier Nutrition’s TMS (Transition Management System) awards dinner the other week, and although we were unable to attend, we were pleased to be presented the award for 'Best Fresh Cow Management'. Overall though it was a great night for Scottish farms with the majority of the awards coming north of the border and the overall award going to the Lawries of Grange Hall Farm, Lanark. So well done all….