Famer Focus livestock: Cutting’s a battle for Victor Chestnutt

With hardly a day without rainfall during the past month, cutting has been a battle.

The machinery has also been throwing everything it could against us, with the wildlife in the form of a badger sett, giving way, to tumble a trailer.

At least quantity is good, with more acres being cut due to the recent good growing conditions, but dry matter will leave a lot to be desired and the first-cut and second-cut will be two opposites.

With the show season behind us, this year has been a success, having achieved three breed championships with three different animals.

This time of the year our thoughts turn to sheep sales and I can’t help wondering if the increasing amount of embryo transfer work taking place in many breeds is furthering genetic progress or hindering it. Too many breeders are producing animals that are pleasing to the eye, but may be unfit to rear their offspring naturally.

I would go as far as to say that no animals, either cow or ewe, should become a donor unless they first have proven their ability to successfully rear suitable offspring. Too many animals with faults like wrong udders are being used as donors. Roll on the day when a naturally-reared twin-born lamb commands a premium over one born as a single out of a cross ewe to give it an artificial head start.

Commodity prices are not encouraging, with milk at 18.5p/litre, beef at £2.50/kg and lambs back to £2.70/kg deadweight, not to mention wool, which now doesn’t cover the cost of shearing.

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