It’s out with the old ewes for John Bainbridge

As I slide in to September I wonder where summer disappeared to. I’ve simply been playing catch-up this year, with everything being done later than usual.

It’s out with the old at the minute, as part-Swaledale ewes are drafted out. Their longevity can vary significantly, with some sheep never leaving the farm. At this end of the process I see the real value of some of the rams I purchased several years ago, with some looking less favourable than others.

The next generation of shearlings have just had their vaccinations to prevent enzootic and toxoplasma abortion. It’s costly, but definitely worthwhile.

I’m currently selling prime lambs every week and am finding deadweight markets to be more fruitful. Live trade has so far been more of a lottery each week and has made selling lambs a risky business. My reliance on concentrates to finish lambs gives added incentive to get the best price, as feed prices continue to rise.

I am, though, a supporter of the live auction marts. They are a key infrastructure and provide a competitive platform from which a fair price can be realised. The social aspect and information traded between farmers is also important and can be an undervalued feature.

The coming month sees me judging stock at the hands of some unfortunate exhibitors. Local shows have struggled once again with the weather, but do well to keep going regardless.

John Bainbridge farms 600ha of rented MoD hill land near Richmond, North Yorkshire, along with 21ha of family-owned land with his sons Lance and Reuben. His 1,400 sheep, plus followers, along with 70 suckler cows, are the main farm enterprise.

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