Kate Beavan talks about the environment

After one of the most challenging lambing seasons we’ve ever had, the end is now in sight and my heart goes out to farmers who suffered horrific losses in the snow.

The last of the hoggets were sold at our local market at the end of March on a good trade, a big improvement on previous months.

We’ve recently bought in 30 Friesian x British Blue calves to hand rear. After some initial “teat-training”, the calves are now taking milk in an orderly fashion twice a day with ad-lib straw and rearing pellets. They will be weaned at six weeks and should develop into friendly, easy-handling heifers who will hopefully sell on to be future suckling cows in two years.

It annoys me when farmers constantly get the finger pointed at them in the environmental press. There is a fine balance between managing the environment and producing enough food to feed a growing nation, but the majority of farmers do a tremendous job. Whether we like it or not we have a man-made ecosystem, mostly managed by farmers.

As a result, we were apprehensive when the Wye and Usk Foundation approached us last year to discuss fencing off our river, as we regularly test for water quality and the results are always good. Targets have to be met under the EU’s Water Framework Directive and as a result, funding was available for our catchment area. After positive discussions we decided to go ahead.

Coppicing and fencing have now been sensitively applied, working around both stock and wildlife. Stock still have access to watering holes and gates provide crossing points.

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Kate Beavan farms alongside her husband Jim on one of two family farms near Abergavenny, Monmouthshire. Farming 200ha, the main enterprises consist of 900 breeding ewes and 50 suckler cows. Meat is sold direct to the family’s traditional butcher’s shop. They hosted the first series of the BBC’s Lambing Live in 2010.

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