It would be hard this month not to mention the weather, with it being most farmers favourite conversation starter.
While I am fortunate that I only have to worry about rain when it falls on my head and not when it comes up around knees, it has still taken its toll on the land and the ewes. With our ground saturated and land intended for grazing ewes and lambs lacking sufficient covers I am praying for a change before lambing gets under way in two weeks.
With our indoor lambing flock housed and settled in, I imagine they are glad they are not part of the outdoor flock who have been looking pretty sorry for themselves. Ground intended for lambing on has been cleared of as many sheep as possibly in a hope it will recover in time for the start of the outdoor lambing flock in four weeks. The ewes have had access to energy blocks for two weeks and they will through lambing to avoid the risks of miss-mothering that comes with feeding concentrates.
Ewes will be set stocked before lambing and after attending a talk on rotational grazing we are looking at putting a plan in place for grazing ewes and lambs. Making better use of the grass we grow is one of our main aims for this year.
After passing a Tb test earlier in January our store cattle have been sold. Prices held firm despite an ever declining finished price. Without the store price there would be very little positives in upland beef systems such as our own. The constant threat of Tb and ever tightening margins makes you wonder how sustainable it is.
Recent comments on Countryfile regarding sheep and their impact on the environment that leads to increased flooding have left me shocked. The lack of a fair debate allowed these naïve comments from someone with so little foresight leaving many believing farmers are to blame. It’s about time our industry had a programme to promote itself as Countryfile is obviously unable to do this.
Tom Jones lives on a 200ha upland beef and sheep farm near Lake Vyrnwy, Montgomeryshire. He also has a contract shepherding business looking after ewes locally
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