FARMER FOCUS: Highs and lows of the market

Gwent YFC rally was a great success, with competitions ranging from skinning a rabbit, singing and chariot racing, to shearing and flower arranging. It was an honour to be asked to judge the rural crafts competition and it was encouraging to see such high standards. In the evening our barn was thumping with music and bursting with a few hundred intoxicated young farmers attending the legendary rally dance. This year we are celebrating 70 years of Abergavenny YFC and long may it continue.

At the time of writing, lamb prices are beginning to drop. Last week 39kg lambs made £94, this week 40kg lambs made £89. The beauty of the market is that we always have the option of bringing livestock home, but bills still need to be paid. I do feel a pang of sadness knowing that a supermarket will soon be standing where our current livestock market is.

Our wildlife courses are proving popular and we have recently been highly commended in the RSPB Telegraph Nature of Farming Award. We’ll be feeling proud and honoured when we receive the award at the Royal Welsh Show, which is also our annual family trip out. Last year it fell on the only sunny week of the year, so most farmers were haymaking. This year, for the first time in years, we have made hay in June. We’re a few bales a hectare down on last year, but it is a pleasure not to be sinking in the mud. The quality is far greater this year, so hopefully we won’t need as much concentrate feed. The advantage of having our own kit is that we don’t have to rely on contractors and can bale when the weather is fit. Shearing on the two farms has also been completed.

On a final note, wearing my other hat as lecturer at Usk College, we are celebrating 100 years of agricultural and horticultural education this year. A warm welcome is extended to all past students and staff to return to Usk and enjoy a weekend of celebrations, which will include the Usk Show. Please contact me direct for further information.

Kate Beavan farms 200ha alongside her husband Jim on one of two family farms near Abergavenny, Monmouthshire. The main enterprises comprise 900 breeding ewes and 50 suckler cows. Meat is sold direct to the family’s traditional butchers shop. Kate and Jim hosted the first series of Lambing Live in 2010

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