The Welsh ewes scanned at 150% with 1.3% barren. This was better than expected as they went to the ram on 11 November and the weather afterwards was wintery and cold. The early arrival of harsh weather last autumn meant we started feeding the ewes sooner and I think this has helped them hold their condition and not to reabsorb foetuses.
We are watching stocks of silage closely and, with luck – and plenty of barley – we will just get through the winter.
At the Hereford fodder sale we purchased an extra hundred big bales of wheat straw at a price which pleased the vendor. This is the first winter I have supplemented the cows with wheat rather than barley straw and they are doing well.
I recently read that, “The main challenge for any sheep producer in 2011 must be to ensure that you have a detailed knowledge of your cost of production.” Well, for me, the main challenge has been to keep the stock alive through the winter and with prices soaring for all our main inputs I am afraid such knowledge is always out of date.
Sheep farmers are feeling the pinch at the moment with these higher costs. British wool sold better this year. I had an advance payment of only 14p a kilo and “Welsh” Wool actually sold for 80p Kilo. So the British Wool Marketing Board could let us have more of the money they owe us for our 2010 clip now. (It would be an extra £1000 on this farm).
On Gower, potash has gone onto winter cereals as muriate on some areas and sulphate on others to see if there are any notable differences in yield. Older grass leys have had a dressing of sodium to try and improve palatability.