Welsh beef and sheep producer David Hormann farms 107ha (265 acres) near Llandovery, Dyfed. His 65 sucklers produce finished calves for slaughter and he also carries 440 ewes plus 120 ewe lamb replacements. He sells another 160 speckled-face ewe lambs for breeding, and finishes 550 lambs for slaughter.
WITH the annual sheep sales now well under way it looks like a boom year for anyone selling breeding stock. Finished lamb prices are also up roughly 25% on this time last year, so the short-term prospects look good for this autumn.
Certainly the feel-good factor is showing through the beef blues, but with all good things, some are wondering what level ewe premium will be next season. After this years high lamb prices, will we be back to the boom-and-bust scenario of the mid-80s, when the last mass exodus from cattle into sheep happened? Quotas, without doubt, will cool the ardour of some wishing to expand.
So far we have sold only our cast brokers, to a top of £32.50 a head – a good £6 a head up on last year. Our main sale of 160 ewe lambs wont occur until Sep 26 in Llandovery. So heres hoping the boom continues.
With all the sheep dipped with Crovect again this autumn we should have full cover against scab, and save any problems with fly-strike should we have a warm October.
The tups are due to go out with the ewes on Sep 28, whilst this years ewe lambs will have to wait until Oct 20 to see the rams.
Looking forward to next month, we shall continue to spread straight N up until the first week in October to ensure a plentiful supply of grass for cattle into November. It worked well last year, so why not try and follow the New Zealanders example and save on winter housing costs.
With October comes the start of a series of farmer meetings organised by the BGS and funded by MAFF, MLC and MDC. The first one is on Oct 3 at the Halliwel Centre, Carmarthen, and costs £10 (to cover the cost of refreshments).
It is a day not to be missed by anyone growing grass for profit. I for one will be there trying to pick up some tips to improve our beef margins which shouldnt be too difficult after this years disastrous sales.n
Short term prospects look good for sheep, but David Hormann wonders whether its the start of another boom and bust scenario like the mid 80s.