Farmer Focus: Taxman won’t bother us this year

As a way of introduction, we took on a derelict 40ha farm 22 years ago with the naivety of youth and have been investing here ever since. 

I’ve always been involved in pedigree stock as a way of adding value to a small acreage.

We have 100 Texel ewes, 16 Charollais ewes, 10 Beltex ewes and the children have 30 Blue Texel ewes.

These had a teaser, lambed 10 days earlier and lambed very quickly, with lambs growing well. However, mastitis is a big problem here this year and for us the results of the Texel Society mastitis research can’t come soon enough.

We sell 40 to 60 shearling rams and 50 shearling ewes each year. We have run a grass-fed system for 10 years having bought too many rams that were only interested in cake.

See also: Early lambers see disappointing results after 2018 drought

We run eight Simmental and 22 Charolais cows plus followers, all calving in the autumn to sell bulls in the spring along with surplus females. 

We do Reading University costings on the enterprises to keep the financial performance on a par with the physical performance.  

Four years ago, we took on an arable grass farm to run commercial ewes and now have 600-head there.

The commercial ewes consist of Texel-cross Mules and Suffolk-cross Mules put to our extreme muscle rams. These have produced excellent carcass lambs with 90% premium grades. 

The cumulative effects of last year’s ‘Beast from East’, a wet turnout and the drought that continued into the winter has left insufficient fodder.

We have had an awful 12 months. But at least we won’t be bothered by the tax man.

We’ve been rationing out silage, but with 1,050 ewes inside we may not get to April as we planned.

The pedigree ewes started lambing in mid-February. They scanned at 166%, which, considering they had no flush, is not too bad (they normally scan about 185%).

With fewer lambs expected, teamwork and attention to detail will be vital this lambing to minimise losses. 

The commercial ewes lamb at the end of March this year and have scanned at 200% but with a lot of singles and triplets, so a lot of skill and patience will be needed.  

James and Belinda Kimber farm 850 commercial and pedigree sheep and 30 pedigree Simmental and Charolais cattle in Wiltshire across 95ha (45ha owned) with the help of their children Josh, Izzy and Richard. James also runs a foot-trimming business and Belinda has a B&B.