Farmer Focus Livestock: Jolyon Higgs sees good sheep price and a new grandson

A month of dry weather on both farms has gone a long way to compensate for a challenging summer.

Initial results from the first cereal crops grown with Min-Til in Gower have been pleasing. Yields were good, with winter oats performing particularly well. Drying costs on the wheat and barley were higher than we would have liked.

However, wheat and barley going into ground is hard and proving challenging for the Min-Til equipment.

In mid Wales we are in the thick of autumn sheep sales. The good returns finishers have seen during the summer are helping boost both ewe and ram prices to record levels. There seems to be a particularly strong trade in the native hill breeds such as Beulah and Welsh Mountain. Cull ewes are still selling well

Prime lambs from the Welsh ewe flock are selling for about £10 a head less than those from Mules, but the lower cost of keeping a Welsh ewe probably compensates for this difference.

Results from recent soil tests at Cwmfron showed potash levels were acceptable, but phosphorous was low. Soil pH has slipped and we will need to put down lime in the coming months. Have the last few wet summers leached out more from the soil than we realised?

We have added a new weapon to our armoury against footrot. We already use a formalin bath and antibiotic sprays. We have now invested £500 in a plastic bath enabling us to stand ten sheep in zinc sulphate for up to 20 minutes, so they get a good soaking. Early results are promising.

Finally we were delighted, and relieved, to hear that, after a three day labour, our first grandson, Theo, had arrived safely; weighing in at over nine pounds.

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