Livestock Farmer Focus: Charlie Armstrong is struggling with weeds

Recent rain has helped grass grow, allowing us to shut up some fields for silage. No fancy plate meters are needed to measure grass this year as it is obvious there is none. This is making topping thistles easy.

Fodder rape was sown the day before the rain came, however weeds are a major problem. One field of fodder beet is now lush green chickweed, so it will have to be replanted. I’ve bought a Moore unidrill to try and alleviate some of these problems, but time will tell.

Lambs have been wormed as Nematodirus was present. They also had a mineral drench as we’ve had some lambs showing vitamin B1 deficiencies.

March-born lambs are weighing 34kgs, whether their mother was a Beulah or Mule ewe. Unsure about the best breed to use on our farm, I looked into the Aberdale breed. Being a farmer not scientist I found the whole gene selection mind boggling, but the question is whether it will make us more money.

Having reared bull calves for 12 month, two things are certain: inputs went up and output prices went down. As a result, we have castrated some, giving us more options.

Any meat buyer will tell you demand is down, people are short of cash, imports are up etc, resulting in a drop in beef price. But with high straw and fuel prices we need prices to go up, not down.

As farmers – and clever business people who farm – we are always going to be held back by the supermarkets. Watchdog or not, I can’t see the government wanting food prices to rise and push inflation up, hence we’ve got the government and supermarkets trying to cap the price in a free market.

On a more exciting note, we have started clipping and I am unsure where to market our wool this year.

• For more columns from Charlie Armstrong

• For more columns from other Livestock Farmer Focus writers