Farmer Focus: Store cattle ‘silly season’ nearly upon us

Looking back at what I had written last month, one thing very much still applies – I am still waiting for the slightest sign of spring growth. Please, please could we have just a little heat.

Lambing preparation is well under way. All the ewes have now been bolused with a cobalt/selenium/iodine bolus and have been vaccinated.

The bolus is not aimed at the ewe, but rather at her lambs. Hopefully they will be building up reserves before birth.

Ewes carrying twins and triplets have now been housed and are on a ration of fairly good silage at 10.3ME (metabolisable energy). They will move on to the best silage (11.9ME) closer to lambing, and a soya-based hard feed.

See also: Alternative ewe protein offers cost-effective solution

It’s amazing to think they are getting enough from the tiny quantities of these intense feeds. This year, because of the introduction of the bolus, the feed manufacturer has removed the iodine.

Going, going… sold!

For cattle finishers like me, “silly season” is just about to start, when store buyers head to the store ring and leave all common sense at the door and start waving like mad at the auctioneer.

When you see the prices some of these cattle make and you compare that to the prime price, you have to wonder if people have done their sums before they arrive.

It’s very seldom that you meet a store seller who isn’t grinning from ear to ear as they leave the ring. We need balance in the cattle marketplace and a margin for everyone.

I had a meeting with the company that design and host our Damn Delicious website this week and they tell me that the site we updated three years ago is now out of date and needs making “mobile-friendly”.

Unfortunately for my bank balance, I agree. The issue is the change in the way everyone shops. Look out for a brand new website coming soon.

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, near Biggar, Lanarkshire. Meat is sold through his online business and farm shop Damn Delicious, with surpluses sold deadweight.