Farmer Focus: Bull escape causes late-night escapade

Conference season is upon us and I have thoroughly enjoyed the ones I attended. The Cattle Breeders’ Conference is always a good chance to catch up with the latest industry developments and this year was no exception.

Usually the enjoyment is the banter between the breeds discussing which breed delivers the most for the farmers that use them. This year we actually had some joined-up thinking, with feed conversion efficiency the main topic within the beef breeds. The big question is: how do we get the beef industry to work together?

I also had the pleasure of being invited to speak at the Ulster Grassland Society Conference, allowing me to meet up with fellow Farmer Focus writers.

Sam Chesney gave me the grand tour and we spent a fascinating day looking at some of the best farms radius you are ever likely to find within a 10-mile radius.

From Sam’s beef enterprise to Thomas Steel’s dairy, I was very impressed by their ability to grow and use grass to the maximum. I was also pleased to be in the company of Robert Craig, who also spoke at the conference. This gave me a great insight into his businesses. I came back feeling more inspired than when I left, which is always a bonus.

Despite the wet weather we have scanned the ewes, with pleasing results. Having taken the decision to keep more ewes and not flush them, we achieved just over 180%. I am more than happy.

We also scanned our autumn herd just to see how well the heat detection collars had worked, with a very pleasing 75% holding to first service. I was most impressed and shall be doing it again.

As I sat down to write this at 10.30pm on a Sunday evening (already two days late) my wife Catherine shouted from upstairs: “The bulls are out!” As I looked out of the window I was greeted by the site of 70 500kg bulls standing on my lawn and front yard. Armed with just a torch and a wife on a quad-bike in brightly coloured pyjamas, we finally managed to put them back without too much fuss. Thank goodness for quiet cattle. I shall inspect the damage in the morning.

James Evans farms 300 Stabiliser suckler cows and 1,110 Llen-cross ewes across two units, totalling 825ha, in Shropshire. He was 2012 Farmers Weekly Beef Farmer of the Year

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