Farmer Focus: We weren’t expecting those BBQ sales a month ago

We have now finished lambing and can take some time to look back and reflect.

It was a fairly routine season, with ewe losses low (under 1%), although we anticipate lamb losses to be on the higher side.

We have had difficulty post-lambing with some groups of lambs. At the moment, our best guess is a combination of the weather and younger ewes not having the maternal ability of the older sheep.

We will begin going through the first mobs next week and can begin to get an idea of the number of losses.

With lambing finished, we have begun calving. We have stabiliser and Welsh Black cows which have been run separately in the past. This year we have decided to put them all to the Welsh Black bull.

See also: How mob grazing can be used to improve soil health

The stabilisers have fantastic qualities – easy calving, quick to grow and good-quality marbling throughout the carcass. The Welsh Blacks also have many good characteristics, including temperament and hardiness.

It is hoped that by putting the Welsh black bull over the stabilisers we can get more marbling into the animal.

The drawback of having a predominately grass-fed finishing system is that there is a tendency to have less marbling than grain-finished cattle, although the use of genetics can help improve this.

Our focus has also turned to getting the soil and pasture in good order to ensure all livestock thrive throughout the year.

We have soil-sampled many of the fields and will need to lime many again this year. Lime is needed across many areas of the farm. We have limed heavily for the past five years and will have to continue doing so.

We will also look to plant a root crop for ewe lambs and heifers throughout the winter, although should we have another wet year, it will be hard to ensure a cost-effective utilisation.

Having a root crop allows the pasture to be rested, and we have most definitely felt the effect of not having such a crop this year.

Easter at the shop was a busy and successful one this year. Lamb was a big hit and roasting joints sold well as the weather was cold and wintery.

We tend to see a slight slump in sales over the school holidays as people go away and routines change, but we are now back to business as normal and the hot weather has helped BBQ sales.

Who would have thought, from a foot of snow to BBQs all within four weeks.

I hope that everyone is making the most of the sunshine and getting some much-needed work done on the land.

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.