Having recently returned from London after attending this year’s Farmers Weekly Awards, it has made me realise a few things. Firstly, what a fantastic industry I am lucky enough to be involved in and just how many people within the industry are achieving great things.
It has also made me realise what a year it has been. Probably the worst spring on record followed by probably one of the kindest summers, and dare I say it, a very good autumn so far.
We have also been lucky enough to welcome over 800 visitors to the farm this year, and I can honestly say I have enjoyed each and every visit. It is great when people are interested in what you do and the reasons behind it, but I have also enjoyed the challenge of people interrogating my system and I have taken on board many interesting ideas.
With calving nearly complete I am more than happy with how things have gone. About 80% have calved in the first six weeks and the conditions are more than ideal. The cows are fit with plenty of milk and the calves are looking really well; let’s just hope the weather will allow us to keep them out as long as possible and keep the winter as short as possible.
We began lambing on 20 March last year, which coincided with the worst spell of weather in March I have ever seen. In order to combat this I have put lambing back to 1 April, so without doubt, and you can even mark it on your diary, I’m sure we are likely to see a mild March followed by a wintry April. You heard it here first.
I am writing this report on the eve of a trip to the US, where myself and 15 other farmers shall be visiting the Leachman Cattle Company in Colorado. We will then travel across to Nebraska to the Clay centre where the Stabiliser breed was first developed. I am full of hope and excitement as I honestly believe the US beef industry is at least 20 years in front of ours, but I shall be travelling with an open mind. Let’s just hope they let us in first.
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