Farmer Focus : Bill and Jonathan Metcalfe 10/12/04

WE HAVE just had the pleasure of our TB and brucellosis tests. As cows went through the crush we also took the opportunity to have them pregnancy diagnosed. Only one cow was found not in calf.

Having checked all eartags, replacements duly arrived the following morning. Seven out of eight primary tags of one particular type had come out, a tremendous earner for the tag manufacturers.

A home-bred cross heifer approaching 30 months old and having failed to get in calf recently made 126p/kg at Darlington Mart, having received little other than grass and silage. Cow numbers may be reduced following the forthcoming scheme changes with a return to fattening our own heifers. This would require less labour and bought in food, but would still suit the single payment scheme.

Mule wethers, fattened on whole grain and straights, have sold reasonably well lately. Most of the lambs are taken to Barnard Castle and left with the mart to sell.

There, lambs go through a narrow race so it is much easier for buyers to assess condition of sheep, with 45kg+ lambs having weighed and sold particularly well. Not stopping to sell them certainly helps us get a decent days work done with the nights cutting in now.

We recently had a call from a company researching satisfaction with RPA staff and delivery. Having complained about how they answer queries on new schemes, as they seem to be the last to hear of the interpretations, we were then asked whether we would like someone from the RPA to talk to us. We politely declined.

However, the BCMS does seem to have improved and appears to run fairly smoothly. No doubt a new system or computer will soon be introduced to change all that.