Farmer Focus Livestock: Flooded cattle sheds cause Alistair Mackintosh problems

I hope everyone has a prosperous and happy new year. We had a reasonably uneventful festive period, apart from a broken water trough flooding the cattle shed. I’m sure a couple of cows sense when everyone is on holiday and then cause disruption.

However, dry, frosty conditions allowed us to muck the sheds out and, with the help of a local farmer/contractor, the job was a lot quicker.

Ewes are looking well and seem to relish the cold, dry weather. The biggest problem has been ensuring a supply of fresh water with troughs being frozen.

Lambs have sold well recently and the price is still rising. I’m down to my last 250 and they should all be sold by the time you read this. No doubt prices will rise further when I have none to sell. However, they have managed to eat their way through some expensive feed, which just takes the shine off the job.

It looks like my new year resolution to keep hold of some money this year is about to take a battering. Normally at this time of year I buy forward some sheep feed, but the prices being quoted bear no resemblance to the January sales and are no cheaper than last year, so far. A price of more than £200/t for sugarbeet pellets seems extortionate, particularly when the farmer struggles to get £25/t to grow it. I wouldn’t mind making that sort of margin.

The other black hole for money is fertiliser. The expected fall in price has not materialised yet. The weakness in the pound is having a negative impact when it comes to buying an imported product.

I’ll certainly be exploring ways to mix and match with feed and fertiliser to achieve maximum benefit over the next few months.

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