As I sit here in the winter sun of early April with views of the snowy Scottish coast, the Isle of Man and, closer to home, the Dromara hills, I am thankful the worst we had of the weather was a little sleet. Antrim and Down bore the brunt of the snow, with many sheep and cows lost.
Mr Tesco has announced he will be buying a larger portion of his beef from Northern Ireland and we should all stand up and cheer. However, I think at 35p/kg cheaper than the mainland, this is a more commercial decision than helping local farmers survive.
Calving is in full swing, with about 50 calved within a week. All calves have been tagged with BVD tissue tags as I am part of the BVD eradication programme for Northern Ireland.
Synchronised heifers have calved well. A large portion of the calves from the main herd are British Blue and Limousin. I recently purchased a further Blue and Blonde bull for the coming season. My aim is to produce bulls under 16 months at 400kgs, with carcass gains between 0.8kg and 0.97kg/day.
It’s been a hard lambing with the few sheep I have. We have lost a few to toxoplasma, so will have to evaluate this before next year. On the positive side, I have a glamorous blonde helper who likes feeding lambs – my partner, Sinead.
Watching all the weather and world unrest I sometimes wonder if farmers ran the world would it have got this bad. No farmers, no food, no future.
Follow me on twitter @samchesney1 or email email@example.com.
Sam Chesney runs a spring calving herd of 120 Limousin cross sucklers in Kircubbin, Northern Ireland. He was 2011 Farmers Weekly Beef Farmer of the Year.
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