David Jones has a 105ha (260-acre) all-grass farm near Welshpool, Powys. His two main enterprises are 80 mainly Hereford x Friesian suckler cows and 800 Mule and Beulah ewes.
THE extra 107 acres added to the farm on a farm business tenancy has enabled me to keep the 95 sucklers out for another month.
Unfortunately the 15 acres of third-cut silage had to be grazed by the Mule ewes to finish off their flushing. This leaves only 900t of suckler silage and 90t of sheep silage going into the winter.
The extra animals I bought to cover cohorts will have to be wintered away. Therefore 16 in-calf heifers and 14 sucklers will be housed and fed on a local farm at a cost of £6.75/week until they start calving in mid-April.
The silage will have to be metered very carefully from housing for the remaining 81 sucklers, 90 store cattle and the 900 ewes.
My normal policy of leaving the calves on the cows until late January will have to be changed. Once they have settled in, half will be weaned and the remaining younger ones weaned a month later. When the cows are dry a significant saving of silage can be achieved using this years cheaper wheat straw to fill them up.
The store cattle are taking 1.8kg of a 50:50 barley maize gluten mix along with ad lib silage with our aim being 1kg a day liveweight gain.
As we really caught a cold with our entire bull enterprise all male animals will be castrated this year. With bull beef relying very much on the export market, I believe castrating gives us many more options, and with extra land available, a chance to graze them next summer if necessary.
Our one and only teaser ram, Bill, died four days before his work was about to start – what a disappointment for him. Last year he was put in with 860 sheep in varying groups. I thought that his presence wouldnt be missed.
How wrong I was. In the first fortnight after the rams had gone in, only one out of 440 mules had been served, and after the three-week cycle only 78. His epitaph should be "A chap who worked so tirelessly with so little to show for his efforts."n
Silage is in short supply for David Jones. The grass destined for third cut silage had to be used for finishing flushing the Mule ewes instead.