Last month’s excellent weather allowed us to finish sowing spring cereals more than a week earlier than last year. For once, all silage fields were shut off, top-dressed and rolled seven weeks ahead of the projected mowing dates.
Lambing was carried out successfully by our seasonal shepherdess, who this year was assisted by my niece – perhaps she thought she was in for a month’s holiday from college, but she’s probably gone back for a holiday instead.
Thankfully, the only lambing drama was the loss of my niece’s mobile phone. Luckily, this did not interfere with her social life too much – it was found just before she returned to college.
The ewes were thinner than I’d have liked and should have had more feed over winter. I have since been feeding turnips in the fields along with ewe rolls to ensure they can provide enough milk.
Our lambing percentage of 179% is the lowest it has been and one of the reasons for this, and possibly the ewe’s condition, is that I decided not to apply late fertiliser last autumn to save costs. In hindsight, this was a false economy.
I recently sold another batch of cull cows, which averaged £976. This included the sale of an October 1996 Simmental cross cow, which topped at £1160.
Pig prices continue to increase slowly, but with the euro easing in value, imports are becoming slightly more attractive. Pig numbers in Europe are low, so hopefully this will help keep the foreign import price high enough to force retailers to continue buying British produce.
This month sees us back on the open market for soya and, with spot prices 36% higher than our original contract price, we have decided to purchase spot loads when required to see how the market develops.