Farmer Focus: Spring calves still flying along on grass

As summer starts to drift into autumn in Dymock, the days are starting to shorten and the evenings are turning a tad chilly. However, we have probably had our best summer for many years, as every time I thought it was getting a bit dry and the grass started to slow, a nice dump of rain came along and freshened everything up.

We use a very simple rotational grazing system and this summer’s grass growth has made this simple to manage. Our normal average rainfall is just under 760mm a year and we would normally be creep feeding our pedigree spring calves by now, but they are flying along on just grass, which is really pleasing.

I had the honour of judging at both the Honiton and Dunster shows in the past week. It’s wonderful to see some great cattle, as well as how interested the general public are in our cattle at these county shows. I think we need to interact with our customers as much as possible and keep spreading the message about great British beef.

We are in the perfect storm of a supply-and-demand imbalance and a strong pound, putting our beef price under pressure. So anything we can do to build confidence and drive demand in our product is essential.

The past few days have been taken up with new Holstein proofs for our bulls in Sterling Sires. DairyCo has made the very positive step of upgrading the profitable lifetime index (PLI) to rank the bulls more accurately for predicted profitability. This has meant the top bulls have gone from a PLI of £200-plus to more than £500-plus, which is a big change, but gives much better data to farmers when choosing bulls. I am over the moon that we have the new world number one bull, with a PLI of £623. He will have a huge effect on many farms.

We are off to France for a week tomorrow for a well-earned break. Mrs W seems keen to confiscate my phone at the port and apparently we won’t see any cows. I’m just plucking up the courage to tell her I have set up a herd visit to an Angus herd on Wednesday. Wish me luck…

Paul Westaway farms in partnership with his wife Kirsty on a 69ha Gloucester County Council farm, running more than 220 Angus and Holstein Cattle. The pair also run an AI business and have recently launched an online steak and wine shop.

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