Silage, barley and straw are now all safely stored away, although for the first time ever we have failed to make any hay. Dung spread on the silage fields is doing good in excellent growing conditions.
The sudden flush of watery grass has caused considerable scouring even in recently wormed lambs, so I am feeding most a mix of lamb finisher cake and rolled barley. Such proven feed bought in at just 5.6p/lb makes a mockery of the idea of home-grown rations.
We are drawing lambs for slaughter on a weekly basis. The base price is running at about 20p/kg above last year, but the increase is considerably eroded by the higher charges the abattoir introduced in the New Year when the hogget trade was flying.
Cull ewes have been sold to average more than £60/head, with the bigger framed, lean Suffolk x mules selling well. If you apply the old adage that a shearling is worth 1.5 lambs, then the price in the region of £100 we paid for replacement mules seems justifiable.
Buying yearling suckled calves, however, requires a greater leap of faith. Demand for young stock seems to exceed supply. While rumours of beef shortages abound, the processors managed, if only briefly, to drive the price below 260p/kg.
We are committed to keeping a number of cattle to comply with our stewardship agreements, but I have found it best to leave my carefully worked costings at home when going to market. On my first foray I bought from eight different vendors, yet only three had taken the trouble to vaccinate against bluetongue. Having invested close to £600/head, an extra £1.20 (plus a little hassle) seems a worthwhile insurance.