Livestock Farmer Focus: Alistair Mackintosh has been pregnancy testing

The many photos of me wearing my woolly hat in these articles has given me much derision over my time as a focus contributor. Nevertheless, with the weather colder, my old trusted woolly hat is about to be dug out again, assuming Angela hasn’t burnt it.

Cows would normally be pregnancy-tested at housing. However, this year we have scanned earlier which has enabled us to identify problems sooner.

The results are pleasing. We have had cows running in batches of about 25 and have run a bull with each so, as a result so far, less than 1% are not in calf and we have taken the opportunity to swap bulls around earlier, which I think has also contributed to the higher conception rate.

A batch of 20 cows is yet to calve and I’m keen use AI on them and follow up with a bull in the hope we can bring their calving time forward next year.

If we get much more wet weather, I’m seriously considering bringing forward the housing of some of the cattle, certainly the ones we intend to finish this winter. I have so say, however, that although we have had a good grain harvest, it may be difficult to justify finishing cattle with barley prices as they are.

Ewes are looking well. They have been dipped, dosed and had their tails clipped ready for tupping. Vasectomised tups will be run with them for three weeks before the tups are put out. Lets hope for a tighter lambing and good weather. We are also feeding 0.25kg of rolled barley to the ewes, to keep energy levels up. It also makes catching the tups a bit easier.

Our policy of buying ewe lambs to run on for next year has stalled. The prices are at least £20 higher than last year which makes a shearling much better value for money.

Although I’ve paid about £25 a head more from them, the increased lamb crop from them makes the decision easy as far as I am concerned.

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