We may be in March but we seem to have at least two or three nights of temperatures to minus five every week.

This certainly has not been a green winter as grass growth is non-existent, hopefully as we approach St Patrick’s Day on 17 March as legend has it he will turn the warm side of the stone up and lead us into a phenomenal period of growth.

As the days lengthen the workload increases with lambing and calving, fieldwork about to start and a big push on to complete fencing and hedging. With March 1 the deadline for coppicing hedges and ground conditions so poor I feel an extra fortnight would have been appreciated.

Livestock are either getting larger or more difficult to control as since I started farming, fences are now being put up an extra foot. We prefer six foot splits as we think the pressure treatment has more of a chance to penetrate. Unfortunately the demand on posts means the sawmills cut and treat them fresh which lessens the impact of the treatment.

We use three strands of barbed wire along with a roll of pig wire to stop the cattle reaching over, our home constructed quick fencer enables us to use 500m rolls of wire which cuts a lot of time out for joining.

On the beef front our meat plants look set to introduce Video Image Analysis carcass assessment. This will take the human element out of carcass grading and should be fairer for all.

For the sheep, talk is all of EID and I can’t help feeling how pointless this exercise is. At a recent meeting of lamb group coordinators, a top department vet who was in charge of setting up procedure for collection centres, although an extremely capable man, had not the common sense to attend collection centres before suggesting the rules.

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