Winter is here… My winter budget starts on 15 October and ends on 15 April and I plan everything around this.
Lambing starts on 20 April, when, hopefully, there is grass, and cattle enter winter crops on 15 October when grass growth has usually slowed right down. I grow enough winter crops to sustain the cattle for six months.
Last year, because ground conditions were so good, I kept all cattle out on grass until mid-November. This turned out to be a huge mistake because they ate all the grass which should have been for sheep wintering.
I then had to put the ewes into the surplus winter crops just before lambing which wasn’t ideal. This year, partially driven by ground conditions but mostly by last year’s experience, the cattle went into winter crops on 19 October.
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Autumn stores bought
Like most other finishers, I buy the bulk of my cattle in spring and autumn so it has been a busy time. As planned, I am entering this winter with more stock than ever before.
As each beast arrives they are electronically tagged, weighed, dosed for fluke and worms and bolused with a high cobalt mineral bolus.
The sooner electronic tagging is mandatory for cattle the better. Think how many mistakes would be avoided and how much time and energy it would save in markets and abattoirs as well as for people like me.
For me it’s crucial, as each animal is weighed it is scanned and its performance is recorded.
Disappointing lambs this year
The ewe flock has been freshened up with a lot of replacement gimmers bought and all ewes have been fluke drenched.
I have been very disappointed in my lamb performance this year but talking to friends I’ve found I am not alone.
Next year, I hope to have lambs for the shop earlier and to achieve this I bought my first Suffolk Tup and a Hampshire Down to join team Texel.
In the shop, Christmas is just around the corner and turkey orders are now starting to fly in. The butchers are also very busy with a lot of private kills, which always surge around this time of year.
Michael Shannon finishes 150-head of mostly Angus beef stores each year and runs 280 Scotch Mules on a 100ha forage-only enterprise as well as free range turkeys for Christmas. Meat is sold through his online business and farm shop Damn Delicious with surpluses sold deadweight.