Livestock Farmer Focus: Victor Chestnutt has round-bale silage to make

Congratulations go to my fellow Northern Ireland club member Alastair Gault on taking the top price of 65,000gns at the Lanark Texel sale last month. This reinforces my belief that our stockmen are as good as any in the UK. The top-price lamb was arguably the best handling carcass sheep at the sale, which bodes well for our breed.

Trading with our neighbours in southern Ireland means we have to satisfy the same rules as going to any other European state. As a result, most breeders in NI are scrapie monitored and, while I have no problems with the scheme, recent interpretations of the rules mean it is not permitted to buy a stock ram from a non-scrapie-monitored flock.

I do not see the sense of tightening up rules for a disease that has much less significance than it had a few years ago. And the requirement by divisional vet officers to check the sheep record books for every sale, even when they may only be days apart, is pure duplication.

Although we are only in mid-September, ground conditions have deteriorated and our dairy cows are housed at night; this is one thing I have found more flexible with the dairy cow than with the suckler.

We still have some round bale silage to make when the weather picks up. I feel the weather in the next four weeks as well as April is critical as it sets the length of the winter feeding period.

As we gather our Blackface ewes and their Mule lambs from the cliffs, two ewes and four lambs have not had much respect for the world heritage Giants Causeway as they have been using the stones for a hard place to lie at night leaving their telltale signs in the morning.

• More from out other Farmer Focus livestock writers.
• Read more from Victor Chestnutt.