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Maize harvest

In October the maize crop is ready to harvest. Maize is grown in Cornwall to make maize silage, a valuable winter feed for diary cows.

The type grown for cattle feed is just one of many different varieties of maize that also gives us corn on the cob or sweetcorn, cornflakes, corn oil, popcorn and maize flour.

Maize is a very good source of starch and is one of the most important cereal crops in the world. Archaeologists have shown that maize was grown in Mexico 7,000 years ago and it is still a vitally important crop in that country today.

Maize ready to harvest

Maize silage ready to feed
Forage harvester cutting maize
The harvested crop is blown into trailers driven alongside

Farming on Bodmin Moor

Cows grazing on moor
Livestock farming on Bodmin Moor follows a pattern that has been established over a thousand years. Many of the local farms have the right to graze animals on the open moorland.

The moor provides summer grazing for sheep, cattle and ponies. The number of animals grazing on the moor is carefully controlled, to balance the growth of the grass and prevent damage to the grassland.

Cows that graze the moorland in the summer are brought in to the fields near the farm in the autumn. Calves are weaned and sold on for rearing.

The sheep too are brought down nearer the farms so the moor is virtually empty through the winter.

Getting ready for winter

Autumn is the time to prepare for housing the cattle through the winter. Most dairy and beef cattle will spend the winter in sheds.

As daily temperatures drop, grass growth begins to slow down and the feed value of the grass falls. Beef herds may stay out in the fields longer and be fed some silage or hay.

At first the dairy cows stay in the yard at night after the second milking of the day. Then by November the herd will probably be housed day and night.

Dairy cows lying in cubicles
Beef cows and calves

April: calf at five minutes old
September: same calf at five months old

Cornwall generally has mild winters and cattle could stay outside all the year round. But the high winter rainfall softens the ground and the animals' feet begin to cut up the fields.

This is called 'poaching'. If it gets too bad a field is turned to mud, destroying the grass plants and reducing the value of the grazing for the following season.


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