Farmer Focus: Should have sold last lambs as stores

We have finally finished the last of the lambs, with the final bunch having to be finished indoors.

It is at this stage that we begin to lose out financially and in hindsight we should have sold them as store lambs some time ago.

It is a welcome time to finally sell the lambs, and we have usually done so at the beginning of January.

The wet weather has affected this, and a change in policy to finish more lambs throughout the season, rather than sell some as stores, has seen forage run short.

See also: Supermarket grazing project ups sheep farm’s grass quality

As is often the case in farming, things don’t always go to plan and we have started lambing a week or so early in one mob of ewes.

In previous years we have had enough covers for turn out, and on sampling our grass last March it was over 18% protein and 11.5ME, which allowed us not to feed concentrate.

Good quality pasture

I have resisted the urge to feed concentrate feed post-lambing for a number of years, especially when the forage is of such good quality.

We have seen our average eight-week weights and weaning weights increase year-on-year since this decision, thus proving that good quality pasture is all that’s needed.

It is unfortunate that this year may see us having to revert back to the use of concentrates, with pasture of any quality in such short supply.

The shop is continuing to progress and the recent trend in slow cookers is helping revive the ‘traditional cuts’. We are seeing an increase in cuts such as shin on the bone, brisket and short ribs. The sale of these cuts are essential for our business as we deal in whole carcasses.

It is a busy period in the farming community, and I’d like to wish all those lambing and calving over the next couple of weeks the best of luck, and let’s never forget that sleep is overrated.

Shaun Hall Jones and his father Barrie farm 1,000 ewes, including an Abermax nucleus flock, and 40 Welsh Black cattle across 364ha near Llanybydder, Carmarthenshire. New projects include a farm butchery business and a shop in Cardiff.