Farmer Focus Livestock: John Bainbridge takes his gimmers to sale

Chances of making hay this year were few and far between with unpredictable weather forecasts much the theme.

It’s the first time I have had to concede defeat and wrap everything, as British summertime appears to arrive much earlier nowadays.

From mid August to October is our favourite period of the year as we leave silage time behind and start preparing for the autumn sales. Our first draw of mule gimmers will be sold at Middleton-in-Teesdale and at Barnard Castle on 14 and 16 September respectively.

After losing a few gimmers gassed up from white clover, they seem to have settled down now, and were showered last week as a clean up process. Indications point to a strong trade for breeding sheep but it’s never wise to be too optimistic.

Sometimes good fortune comes around and this year we were fortunate enough to be allocated an extra 100 round bales of barley straw. This was from a good friend who lives down the valley and will prove a useful feed to compensate for silage shortages. However, the price of straw is higher than I would like, and when ordering some cake, my supplier tentatively told me that the price had risen by £6 a tonne. Suddenly I start feeling a little less fortunate.

These feelings are made worse when, interestingly, a fellow farmer informed me of his relation in France who had just had their sheep subsidy rise to about £30 an animal on top of their SFP.

Finally, I hope to make it to the local show at Reeth with some gimmer lambs. I don’t usually make it to many shows, but see it as an opportunity to promote our lambs and enjoy a good day out – if the weather is kind.

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