Once again September has been eventful, with extreme weather. In the first week of the month we had good sunshine with strong winds, allowing us to make great progress with harvest. This left only 24 acres of spring oats left to cut.
During this fine spell of weather I made some of my best hay ever. It was cut on the Monday and baled on the Saturday. I usually get too eager and bale hay too early but, with everyone busy combining, baling and carting grain it got that extra day to mature.
Autumn calving is going well, but both the commercial and pedigree herds have had several sets of twins. Although one or two sets are handy and provide a spare calf if needed, too many become a lot of extra work.
The newborn calves and their mothers continue to graze outside but, with the recent rain, their fields are beginning to get damaged. We have had rain showers everyday since 7 September and then 73mm fell in 36 hours, resulting in cattle standing around hedgerows sheltering while their feet turned the grass black, and recently sown fields looking like boating ponds.
I recently sold last year’s autumn male calves as stores at our local auction market to average £726. Despite our rearing costs rising, this is down on last year’s tremendous trade but, with prime cattle prices reduced, we cannot expect buyers to pay more for store cattle.
I was pleased to have kept 70 gimmers of my own breeding as my purchased gimmers cost £165 a head. I fear this is too high to make any return from the sheep enterprise this year.
Recent pigmeat prices are just managing to be maintained – hopefully, with the high cereal price throughout Europe, we will not see any cheap pork being imported. Although it is good to see the arable sector getting better returns, I really feel the cereal price is a bubble, but I just don’t know how big it is and when it is going to burst.