Ewan Brewis - Farmers Weekly

Subscribe and save

Farmers Weekly from £133
Saving £46
In print AND tablet

SUBSCRIBE NOW

sub_ad_img

Ewan Brewis

6 November 1998

Ewan Brewis

Ewan Brewis 700ha(1750-

acre) farm is split into two

units. Lempitlaw, the main

420ha (1037 acre) holding

near Kelso, Scottish Borders

and Gattonside Mains with

180ha (455 acre) grass

(LFA). Stocking is 340

sucklers, a 40-cow pedigree

Aberdeen-Angus herd, 20-

cow pedigree Charolais herd,

60 pedigree Suffolk and 960

commercial ewes

HERE we go again – yet more doom, gloom and despondency. The last four weeks have seen that damn rain continue with 3.5in having fallen, adding to the annual total of 33in, and as I write it is raining again.

The Perth Bull Sales were hardly the highlight predicted last month. We only managed to sell two bulls averaging £2900 and two Heifers averaging £1400. We brought home three bulls, one of which was second in its class to the Reserve Champion and one fifth in class. These can easily be used at Gattonside Mains as we are short of quality bulls there.

The bull sales in general were all back in both price and demand however, quality still seemed good. We bought the Reserve Champion Shorthorn bull from Donald Biggar which is also destined for Gattonside. Someone looking for a quality commercial bull had plenty of choice, without digging very deep into their pockets. As times get harder, its essential to improve quality because one must remember that it costs the same to rear a good one as it does to rear a bad one.

Last week saw the arrival in the post of hundreds, well 65 actually, of individual packages from BCMS, Workington, each containing a Cattle Passport. Unfortunately, 32 had to be returned because of errors in the genetic dam ID. Their computer had all O as zero. On telephoning BCMS they said: "Cross out the incorrect number and write the correct one above." Think about it!

When queried, BCMS staff said they hadnt been briefed on how to deal with the problem of Os and zeros. We have been applying for passports on a computer print-out for the past few years and, as far as I know, they have all been correct – it must surely be a backward step to go back to writing them by hand.

On a more up-beat note, we have found the ideal storage cabinet for the dreaded passports. Bought from Ikea, its a small filing cabinet on wheels with six drawers, holding about 80 passports each. Name – Helmer, No – 15032180, Cost – £45. (H69cm x W28cm x D41cm). Our useful tip for the month. Perhaps Ikea will pay us commission! &#42

Disappointment at Perth for Ewan Brewis, with two bulls averaging £2900.

    Read more on:
  • News

Ewan Brewis

22 May 1998

Ewan Brewis

Ewan Brewis 700ha(1750-

acre) farm is split into two

units. Lempitlaw, the main

420ha (1037-acre) holding

near Kelso, Scottish Borders

and Gattonside Mains with

180ha (455 acre) grass

(LFA). Stocking is 340

sucklers, a 40-cow pedigree

Aberdeen-Angus herd, 20-

cow pedigree Charolais herd,

60 pedigree Suffolk and 960

commercial ewes.

AT last we have turned all the stock out, and although one can hardly say summer is here, it is certainly milder than the beginning of the month.

We continued to get rained upon for the whole of April; the eventual total was 147mm.

Grass continues to grow and stock certainly have plenty to eat, even though the early turned out cattle seemed more intent on poaching it than eating it. Funnily enough, the first cattle put out did not settle and even now, three weeks later, are still raking the fence backs and have got out of the field three times, whereas the later turned out cattle seem a lot more content.

This year our worming policy was revised and instead of using a bolus, we have injected them with Cydectin. I hope this will save us at least half the cost, even though they will have to be injected a second time, which should not be too much of a problem, as all the cattle are at home instead of at Ladykirk.

On the sheep front, the shepherd duly retired and handed the final lambing duties over to the amateurs. After an initial disastrous two days in which we managed to kill most of the pet lambs (no great loss) and a few problems with lambing hoggs, we completed the lambing reasonably successfully. One conclusion was soon arrived at: We will not be lambing hoggs again.

We have been flat out preparing for our ewe sale, which by the time you read this will be over. More about that next month. We have also sold our first lambs and they returned a disappointing £60.02. But I suppose the way the lamb trade was earlier in the year, we could not expect an awful lot more.

Calvings are completed at both Gattonside and Eastfield. Eastfield ended up one calf less than cows calved and Gattonside two less.

All in all, the spring has seen a good calving and lambing with only the weather in early April causing big problems. We have had more grass than ever in April, which is no doubt the wettest on record. But Gattonside Mains will benefit from the wet. Its south facing shallow soils do not enjoy a dry spring. Now for some heat? &#42

Calving and lambing have gone well for Ewan Brewis – the weather causing the only problem in April, with rain almost every day.

    Read more on:
  • News

Ewan Brewis

27 March 1998

Ewan Brewis

Ewan Brewiss 700ha(1750-

acre) farm is split into two

units. Lempitlaw, the main

420ha (1037 acre) holding

near Kelso, and Gattonside

Mains with 180ha (455

acre) grass. Stocking is 340

sucklers, a 40-cow pedigree

Aberdeen-Angus herd, 20-

cow pedigree Charolais herd,

60 pedigree Suffolk and 960

commercial ewes

SINCE I last wrote, and with the weather being unseasonably mild, we got very excited and managed to sow all the spring barley, complete spreading fertiliser on the grass, put out the early lambed ewes and then guess what – it snowed. Since then we have had 50mm of rain/sleet and temperatures have dropped by about 5C. Nonetheless, nothing seems to have been too damaged and the grass, although lush, is surprisingly free from scorch.

One of the major tasks completed was a visit from MAFF who, believe it or not, wanted to count all the ewes for sheep annual premium, and count the suckler cows and read the ears of 20% of them for suckler cow premium.

This seems a peculiar time with the ewes in the middle of lambing and the spring calving cows already started to calve. Maybe MAFF hasnt heard of animal welfare, however, no harm has been done and the inspectors are only doing their job. In fact, despite the preceding dread, a sunny day and computerised records meant that the job was relatively painless.

Lambing continues unabated with the pedigree Suffolk ewes more or less complete in what looks like being good numbers and quality, even though the "herd" still informs me "theres a few singles". The main lambing – ie phase three – started on Wed, Mar 25.

Calving, although slow, so far hasnt thrown up too many problems – the worst, so far, being a couple of cows not wanting to let their calves suck, which is tedious and time consuming.

The pedigree cows are calved inside, and within a couple of days are put out so as to prevent scour, pneumonia, etc.

This last month also saw us sell approx 50 bullocks, mainly through Scotbeef where we continued to get the same price as last month. In the fat market we sold up to 130p/kg. We also sold cull cows at the dismal price of approx £250 a head. I think that we must be very careful when culling. Yes, we have plenty home bred replacement heifers and the younger cows breed better and produce better calves, but there is quite a difference between selling the culls at todays price compared with £600 two years ago. &#42


Fine weather meant Ewan Brewis completed spring sowing, putting fertiliser on grass and turning out ewes and lambs before it snowed.

Fine weather meant Ewan Brewis completed spring sowing, putting fertiliser on grass and turning out ewes and lambs before it snowed.

    Read more on:
  • News

Ewan Brewis

27 February 1998

Ewan Brewis

Ewan Brewis 700ha(1750-

acre) farm is split into two

units. Lempitlaw, the main

420ha (1037 acre) holding

near Kelso, Scottish Borders

and Gattonside Mains with

180ha (455 acre) grass

(LFA). Stocking is 340

sucklers, a 40-cow pedigree

Aberdeen-Angus herd, 20-

cow pedigree Charolais herd,

60 pedigree Suffolk and 960

commercial ewes.

FOR once we have a month which started with a bit of optimism. Our pilgrimage to Perth Bull Sales (which last month I had indicated we would be going to with higher expectations than usual), actually bore fruit and we came away with the Aberdeen-Angus Reserve Overall Champion which made £8000gns; our sale average was £3666.

However, we still fell foul of the panel, but on this occasion the less said the better. We also purchased a Shorthorn bull for Gattonside which, although not first choice, should complement our Limousin purchase of October very nicely. The quality of the Shorthorn show was a huge improvement on their last sale.

On returning home, we have selected which bulls we will take in October and there would appear to be a choice of 12 – the younger ones of which will probably wait until next February.

Last month I told you that we had drawn 607 fat lambs and that they had done very well on the stubble turnips, but I was disappointed that the potential sale price was going to be similar to the purchase price. I was obviously far too optimistic – they eventually averaged £32.75 a head, which is a £10 loss on the purchase price of the those bought in.

Lambing has restarted after the first batch and so far seems to have gone considerably better than last year, with only a few knockers left in the pens. Those lambed earlier are running out into the field during the day and enjoying the mild and dry weather which we have had over the last three weeks.

In fact, 24mm (1in) of rain fell the week after my last report and only 1mm since. This has allowed us to apply poultry litter and slurry to nearly all the grass land so it is now ready to grow as soon as the weather allows.

This week saw us draw cattle to sell to Scotbeef and I was encouraged to receive a price of 222p/kg deadweight for our Angus crosses, but disappointed to only get 186p/kg deadweight for our black Continentals. For a 320kg beast this makes a difference of £115 – no wonder there was demand for Aberdeen-Angus bulls at Perth. &#42

Aberdeen Angus crosses have earnt Ewan Brewis 222p/kg deadweight, while his black Continentals have made him only 186p/kg deadweight.

    Read more on:
  • News

Ewan Brewis

2 January 1998

Ewan Brewis

Ewan Brewis 700ha(1750-

acre) farm is split into two

units. Lempitlaw, the main

420ha (1037 acre) holding

near Kelso, Scottish Borders

and Gattonside Mains with

180ha (455 acre) grass

(LFA) plus 80ha (198 acres)

rented. Stocking is 340

sucklers, a 40-cow pedigree

Aberdeen-Angus herd, 20-

cow pedigree Charolais herd,

60 pedigree Suffolk and

960 commercial ewes

HAPPY New Year from all at Lempitlaw – lets hope that 1998 brings us better fortune than 97! What a year it has been. There have never been more lows in a farming year than I can remember.

We started off in January with the continued battle with the Department over separate businesses. In June we finally had to admit defeat, resulting in all three businesses being rolled into one and it is only now that the real costs can be counted.

With the change of the "ring-fence" at Gattonside from LFA to non-LFA – we leased out our 301 LFA suckler cow quota and both bought and leased non-LFA, at a net cost of £14,000 which shows the difference in value between the two. On BSPS we potentially lost 360 claims at about £67/head which totals £24,000.

The consequence of this is that we have had to give up the tenancy at Ladykirk. They have been very understanding in allowing us to do this outwith the terms of the agreement. Unfortunately more cut backs will have to be made and maybe the men at the Department should realise exactly whose livelihoods they are playing with.

February was our "fiery" month, destroying both a shed with straw-chopper, and in a separate incident, a JCB forklift. As I write this I have eventually (today) received payment for the former. Insurance companies at the moment are in the same popularity league as the Department!

The middle of the year saw interest rates rising, the pound strengthening and our incomes going into free-fall whilst the rain made silage making near impossible.

Harvest produced some of our lowest yields and lowest quality for many a year, coupled with the lowest real-term prices I can remember.

As the year came to a close, we were struck with politicians meddling with "beef on the bone" and a flood of imports. On the home front we have run into problems with bulls not working too satisfactorily. One bull on hire only settled 20% of the cows and at Gattonside in one batch only 45% were tested in calf.

On the positive side, things at the moment are looking well with grass green and winter cereals well forward. Rainfall for the year has amounted to 712mm – 28.5in. This is above average and maybe bodes well for 1998.n

Last year started eventfully for Ewan Brewis, with two fires. The Department of Agriculture, strength of sterling, poor cereal yields and Government announcements combined to ensure it didnt get much better.

    Read more on:
  • News

Ewan Brewis

5 December 1997

Ewan Brewis

Ewan Brewis 700ha(1750-

acre) farm is split into two

units. Lempitlaw, the main

420ha (1037 acre) holding

near Kelso, Scottish

Borders and Gattonside

Mains with 180ha (455

acre) grass (LFA) plus 80ha

(198 acres) rented.

Stocking is 340 sucklers, a

40-cow pedigree Aberdeen-

Angus herd, 20-cow pedigree

Charolais herd, 60 pedigree

Suffolk and 960 commercial

ewes

The weather continues to be unseasonably mild and dry, with rainfall amounting to only 43mm (1.6in), and mid-November temperatures reaching 16C (62F), and dropping to only 7C (45F).

So far, animal health has not suffered too badly, with only one case of pneumonia which was treated with Duphacycline. However, the second dose should maybe have been administered a day quicker as the animal is not improving at the rate it was.

Difficulty with bulls seems to be the order of the day at Gattonside Mains, with our Shorthorn bull now being condemned to the scrap heap with a hip problem, two Angus bulls out of action having hurt themselves, and one Angus bull only settling one in three served. The result has been to synchronise almost 60 cows, and AI them – the majority- with a Limousin and the rest with a Shorthorn. This, hopefully, will close up our calving pattern. We have also purchased a Limousin bull to replace the Shorthorn and, hopefully, this will give us improved conformation on the heifer calves kept as herd replacements.

We have now decided that the entries for the Spring Bull Sales are going to be five Angus bulls only -the feeling being that the Charolais cattle, although quite good, are not going to be of a high enough quality to guarantee a sale in the present climate.

The lamb trade seems to struggle from week to week being held back by a strong £ or striking lorry drivers. However, we are still managing to maintain an average selling price of above £50. If no improvement is forthcoming, I wonder if any money will be made on our bought in lambs (purchased at £43), but somehow the whole year seems to have been a struggle to make money.

On a brighter note, we took two bullocks to the Scottish Winter Fair for the Scottish Premier Meat class – cattle shown live and then dead. We finished up second in the live section of the Angus class. We also entered the Aberdeen-Angus Cattle Societys Suckler Cow of the Year competition and came third. So although we are maybe not making much money, what we produce at least looks OK.n

Ewan Brewis is contented by show success with his Aberdeen Angus stock, otherwise the whole year has been a struggle to make money.

    Read more on:
  • News

Ewan Brewis

10 October 1997

Ewan Brewis

Ewan Brewis 700ha(1750-acre) farm is split into two units.

Lempitlaw, the main 420ha (1037 acre) holding near Kelso,

Scottish Borders and Gattonside Mains with 180ha (455

acre) grass (LFA) plus 80ha (198 acres) rented. Stocking is

340 sucklers, a 40-cow pedigree Aberdeen-Angus herd, 20-

cow pedigree Charolais herd, 60 pedigree Suffolk and 960

commercial ewes.

SEPTEMBER saw only 31mm of rain in a month in which we were led to believe was going to be one of the worst on record. At the Border Union Show one of the local chemical companies brandished around a horrific weather forecast, which was also then heard on our local radio farming spot.

I have always taken the view that most weather forecasters can hardly tell us what weather we had yesterday, let alone forecast two months in advance.

Fortunately, the bad weather never materialised and we have had a very dry and mild Septem-ber. The tups for the Kelso sale were hardly ever shut in from the rain prior to the sale. Trade at the tup sale was again steady and our own average was back £10 at £420 which was very acceptable considering we sold the whole crop bar two which were lame prior to the sale. These have subsequently been sold.

In other areas, the stubble turnips/fodder rape look the best I have ever seen here, and should allow good grazing for our own feeding lambs and also the 237 bought in lambs. These were purchased at £43 a head and I hope we have not paid too much for them. Hopefully they will put on enough weight to be sold at 20-22kg deadweight sometime about the turn of the year.

On the cattle side we have sold Angus heifers to average 205p and bullocks at 225p dw. Unfortun-ately we had a fatality in the pedigree herd with the death of a first time calved cow. She was lying stone dead one morning and even after a post-mortem we are still not clear as to the cause of her death.

The bulls for Perth are progressing nicely and are being exercised most days. Whether or not we take all four Angus bulls is yet to be decided as the youngest one still requires further time and we may keep him to sell in February. This week also sees our local Border Aberdeen-Angus bull walk which is always interesting, and a chance to see the quality of stock being produced by our local breeders.

At Gattonside Mains we have vaccinated all the calves to be spained with IBR and PI3 and they have been returned to their mothers before they are finally separated and transported down to Lempitlaw.n

Ewan Brewis has sold Angus heifers to average 205p/kg and bullocks at 225p/kg deadweight. At Gattonside, the calves have been vaccinated and returned to their mothers, with weaning next on the agenda.

    Read more on:
  • News

Ewan Brewis

15 August 1997

Ewan Brewis

Ewan Brewis 700ha(1750-acre) farm is split into two units. Lempitlaw, the main 420ha (1037 acre) holding near Kelso, Scottish Borders and Gattonside Mains with 180ha (455 acre) grass (LFA) plus 80ha (198 acres) rented. Stocking is 340 sucklers, a 40-cow pedigree Aberdeen-Angus herd, 20-cow pedigree Charolais herd, 60 pedigree Suffolk and 960 commercial ewes.

BACK from South Africa – one of the best trips we have ever had – back to reality.

Gattonside silage took three weeks to make in our absence due to the weather, but there were only about 10 acres of dodgy bales made.

The rainfall in the past two months has amassed 213mm, fortunately most of that while we were away. Since our return we have baled some excellent hay, completed second-cut silage and started harvest.

The new baler, a Class Variant, which did well in silage, is now chopping and baling winter barley straw for incorporating into rations. After the fire in January, we have replaced the straw chopper with a chopper mixer wagon. That should prevent any more fires, but we are not sure how the chopped bales and mixer wagon will perform together.

The show season started at the Border Union at Kelso, where we were upstaged by our own cattleman, Iain McGillivray. He won the overall championship with his heifer out of a cow bought from us a few years ago. It was encouraging to see a new breeder taking the honours, even if it was at our expense. The Berwickshire Show at Duns the next week brought Iain back down to earth, though, as his heifer certainly did not catch the judges eye – thats showing for you.

On the pedigree front the Iloma ET saga continues and we are now at the stage of AIing her before flushing. We have 10 donor cows ready and hope they will all be required.

Pedigree calving is in full swing and has been relatively uneventful, the score standing this year at 17 bulls and 17 heifers. At Gattonside Mains, heifer calving began a fortnight ago with no problems other than one caesarian.

Sheep dipping came and went in my absence. Unfortunately, lamb prices seem to have subsided; having hovered about the 250p/kg price in June we have now slumped to 220p.

I am pleased to say we are still supplying lambs to our local butchers, David Palmer, and more recently to Mitchells of Kelso. Logan Brown of Border Livestock Exchange tells me that nobody else could get as much for my lambs as he does!n

Pedigree calving is in full swing, with 17 bulls and 17 heifers on the ground so far. Next on Ewan Brewis agenda is flushing Iloma the pedigree Charolais cow, which is due to have been done this week.

    Read more on:
  • News

Ewan Brewis

28 March 1997

Ewan Brewis

Ewan Brewis 700ha(1750-acre) farm is split into two units at Kelso in the Scottish Borders. Stocking is 340 sucklers, a 40-cow pedigree Aberdeen-Angus herd, 20-cow pedigree Charolais herd, 60 pedigree Suffolk and 960 commercial ewes.

UNFORTUNATELY this months update is not full of better news. We still seem to be accident prone, with the older JCB forklift taking it upon itself to self-destruct in a spontaneous flare-up whilst unattended and switched-off in the middle of the field. Result – one total write-off.

The windless conditions last month changed to continuous gales as soon as we decided to try and spread fertiliser. One of the other unfortunate side-effects of the gales has been that the burnt out building has cast its few remaining pieces of asbestos sheeting liberally around the top steading, together with a covering of chopped straw the length and breath of the village.

The second half of February gave us 50mm of rain but so far March has seen none at all. At least this has enabled us to get on with land work including top dressing all the winter cereals and some of the grass. We have also sown 115 acres of spring barley. The only remaining sowing is the turnip field and one grass field, both of which have in-lamb ewes still running on them.

Calving continues in a stop-go fashion with good, strong, healthy calves being produced. Unfortunately as we write this, the pedigree calves have taken a bout of pneumonia with every calf showing a rise in temperature, resulting in vaccinations all round. This will be repeated in two days, after which I think we should turn them out as soon as possible.

Gattonside Mains calving is also in full swing and so far no major problems except for one set of stillborn twins. All part of stock rearing.

Phase two of the lambing is underway and the only comments I have had from the Herd is "Ower money bloody threes" – too many triplets – which of course can be a problem as one tends to get a few weak lambs which all take time and effort to rear – or die. But all things considered, the lambing is going very well.

My patience is being severely tested by the Scottish Office with regard to the separate business saga – their attitude seems more stubborn than ever. Even more annoying is that six months on, we still await Novembers suckler cow premium which is in excess of £40,000. I dont suppose there will be any penalty imposed on them? Perhaps next month…n

Life isnt proving any easier for Ewan Brewis this month, with the old unattended forklift spontaneously combusting. And the pedigree calves have had a bout of pneumonia, which meant vaccinations all round.

    Read more on:
  • News

Ewan Brewis

8 November 1996

Ewan Brewis

Ewan Brewis 700ha(1750-acre) farm is split into two units. Lempitlaw, the main 420ha (1037 acre) holding near Kelso, Scottish Borders and Gattonside Mains with 180ha (455 acre) grass (LFA) plus 80ha (198 acres) rented. Stocking is 340 sucklers, a 40-cow pedigree Aberdeen-Angus herd, 20-cow pedigree Charolais herd, 60 pedigree Suffolk and 960 commercial ewes.

BETTER news this month – at long last the rains have come, but fortunately not in one huge downpour.

Rainfall in the past week has come every other day ranging from 4-6mm and gives a monthly total of 59mm and a year-to-date total of 401mm. This means we still need 25mm a week in November and December to reach our average for the year.

But the countryside looks very lush and green with temperatures abnormally high (last night minimum temperature was 12.5C). Not very healthy weather for housing cattle, but we have IBRd and clipped most of the older cattles backs and housed at a fairly low stocking density. One cattle court runs out through the day and only in at night to minimise the threat of pneumonia.

This week saw our return from the Perth Bull Sales, not one of our more successful trips. Knowing that our bulls were not as big as we would have liked, I was shocked to find two had been "panelled" for not being big enough. But both were very thick and will do a good job at Gattonside Mains, and are needed to replace a young bull ear-marked for that job, which rather reluctantly, I sold privately last week.

Also at Perth, I bought a half share with Michael Arnott in the top priced Shorthorn bull. With only 25 spring cows and 25 autumn to be bulled and Michael with half that number and calving two months later I hope this should work relatively successfully.

This month also saw an inspection by the Department of Agriculture with regard to the separateness of our Ladykirk business. Although this business was set up in 1987, by my late father and my wife, it appears that for IACS purposes we shall have to amalgamate it with Lempitlaw and forfeit over £20,000 this year, with the possibility of also having to pay back last years BSPS. I hope next months report will be more cheerful.n

Grassland is lush and temperatures abnormally high -not ideal for housing says Ewan Brewis.

    Read more on:
  • News
blog comments powered by Disqus