Farmer Focus: Imminent onset of lambing and calving

I have delayed writing this month’s article until the last minute, but for good reason. Having just watched England beat Wales in this year’s Six Nations series, I feel very happy and it helps to repair the mental scars from last year.

One thing that did dawn on me was how patriotic we all are, yet as Englishmen we seem to overlook St George’s Day on 23 April. In doing so we as farmers and as a nation are missing out. The Great British Beef Week, supported by Ladies in Beef, is a perfect platform to promote the nation’s favourite dish. Beef prices continue to fall and we are told this is due to the general public not eating enough beef. Surely St George’s Day is the perfect opportunity for supermarkets, restaurants, butchers and farmers to get the nation to eat more beef and prove to the sceptics the value of getting the family around the table to eat a meal?

We recently had our TB test and were thrilled when we were given the all-clear. The thought of having to test cows in the middle of calving was something I was not looking forward to, but thankfully we can just concentrate on the matters in hand. Bull and heifer sales are going extremely well and by the time this is published, all remaining fattening bulls will be moved to the feed-lots, allowing me extra room for calving.

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The ewes are just finishing the remaining stubble turnips, having trod in huge amounts due to the wet weather. This week will see them crutched out, vaccinated and wormed before being turned out to their fields, where they will be set-stocked and remain in their groups to lamb. Let’s hope the weather stays fine.

As well as the imminent onset of calving and lambing, my chocolate Lab had a litter of 11 pups, all of which are causing much amusement with my two young children. It was only the other day when my two-year-old daughter Isabelle snuck off to the puppy shed. On investigation I caught her armed with a large pot of magnolia paint and a brush, trying to paint the pups. When I quizzed her on what she was doing, she informed me: “I just wanted a white one”.

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.