Farmer Focus Livestock: TB is a concern for Robert Neill

TB or not TB? That is certainly the question being asked by the Scottish government, who is wanting Scotland to be declared TB-free.

We certainly cannot endorse this idea. If this was to happen it would have an enormous impact on our business, primarily due to the complications associated with the cross-border movements that currently take place between our farm and my brothers’. Every animal wintered in England would have to undergo testing before returning home in the spring. This move would also affect livestock markets relying on cross-border trade between Scotland and England.

The spring barley is all cut and the straw baled. We have direct drilled 40 acres of grass seeds at a rate of 40kg/ha, which will be used for silage next year. With the low price of grain this year I don’t know whether I will plough any grass out, or use it to feed an increasing number of beef cattle.

We are currently selling malting barley at £180/t. As long as this barley meets the maltsters specifications then a lorry load of malting barley will be worth £5220. Unfortunately the loads that have been rejected returned to the farm only being worth £2030. I don’t know of any other commodity suffering such a drop in value. The rejected barley has been added to the feed barley that will be used to fatten cattle during the winter.

I recently had an enjoyable weekend judging the Glendale Show Suckler Herd Competition. I visited 11 farms in Northumberland all with different breeds. Congratulations to Roland Telford who was the overall winner.

Although harvest has taken place under drier conditions than last year we did hear about an incident locally where one combine was well and truly stuck. Unfortunately Neil Thomson, a fellow Farmer Focus writer, had to call in reinforcements from “Wendy” – a machine that many farmers got to know well during last year’s wet weather.

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