Farmer Focus Livestock: Alistair Mackintosh

Farmers in the south of the country are still desperate for rain, but we have had more than enough now. Although there is still a hosepipe ban in Cumbria, the fields are saturated and care is being taken to avoid poaching when moving cattle.

The first three batches of cows have been pregnancy tested and results are variable. Two bulls have been working well, but the other seems to have started and then taken time off. Luckily we have been able to identify the problem early and have taken remedial action to solve our problem. It does mean, however, calving will be more spread out in the spring.

I’m still in two minds as to whether I should castrate the bull calves and sell them as stores in the back end, or to keep them entire and finish them at 12 to 13 months old in the spring.

The finish price is currently unsustainable for producers and if we don’t see a rise soon, I will struggle to justify finishing cattle.

On a positive front, lamb prices are more realistic than they have been for a long time. All our lambs have been weaned and we generally at this time, sell a number as stores. Judging by recent sales, store lambs are dearer than last year and I have to say that every penny is spoken for.

By the time you read this I hope to have harvested our winter barley. It looks to be an above-average crop, which is being flattened daily by wind and rain. The contractor has sprayed it off with Roundup, killing off any unripe heads. It is, therefore, imperative we get some dry weather soon, or we will start to lose yield. Here, straw is a valuable commodity, and at a 100/t to buy, you can imagine how anxious I am to get every last stem.

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