FARMER FOCUS: Don’t use Schmallenberg as a scapegoat

I never thought I would be saying at the beginning of May that spring is hopefully on its way.


With little grass growth and cows still having to be fed outside, I’m not alone when I say grass can’t come soon enough.


Lambing is now all but over and at the end of the week, we shall be vaccinating and drenching.


This means we’ll be able to have a count and work out our losses, which hopefully won’t be as bad as we initially thought.


We calved about 140 cows in April, and, despite the five cases of Schmallenberg, things have gone extremely well, and this year’s calves look to be off to a good start.


It’s ironic that in both sheep and cattle everything we usually suffer from we seemed to have eliminated or got on top of, only to be confronted by either extremes in weather or a new disease.We can’t win!


The Schmallenberg virus seems to be hitting different farmers in different ways and is probably getting the blame for all sorts of things.


As farmers, it’s always easy to blame something outside of our control, but I think that this year any cows that are empty, or which suffer from abortions, should still be investigated for all the usual suspects, rather than take the easy option and blame this horrible disease.


We are told a vaccine is imminent, but I’ve heard little more and I’m sure it is frustrating for anyone wishing to bull cows now. It’s too late to give them total cover anyway.


I’ve decided if we are going to blame Schmallenberg for everything then perhaps I can start blaming it for me never making the starting line up at Twickenham.


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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