Farmer Focus: Beef Efficiency Scheme seems worth the effort

It’s always a good feeling when calving finishes. It’s even better when I get all the cows outside, but I never properly relax until I know the bulls are working.

Thankfully, there haven’t been any issues with the bulls this year, and it’s always a relief when you see them lying, chewing their cud on week four after a busy first three weeks.

After some cold dry days in May, which left some of the barley a bit yellow, June has been a better month. The ground is dry, but we have had enough rain and the grass has been growing well.

See also: What to consider when planning a compact calving system

By the time the cows went on their most recent shift, the grass was far too long. I would like to be able to cut any fields which get too strong, but more than half my land is permanent grazing and I’m not taking the mower near fields with boulders and holes.

If the grass is at the correct stage when they go on their last shift, then the cows could soon be tight for grass if a poorer growing spell comes.

These last couple of weeks I have been trying my hand at some dry stone “dyking” in the garden.

I must be getting old. I don’t mind building, provided I’m not in a rush to get to another job. A young Steven Sandison certainly didn’t have the patience to build with stone.

On rainy days I try and keep up to date with office work. One task was entering the 2020 calving data for the Beef Efficiency Scheme.

A lot of Scottish farmers didn’t sign up and I’m led to believe a lot more dropped out before the end of the first year.

It took me just over an hour to enter my calving data. It takes the same to enter the calves’ weights at the other end of the year and a few extra minutes to tag around 20% of the calves to get a tissue sample.

It has been a very worthwhile scheme as far as I’m concerned, with very little hassle and some useful information for myself and the Scottish government.

Steven Sandison farms 100 Simmental and Salers-cross cows and 50 sheep on the Orkney Islands in partnership with his wife, Lorraine, on 123ha, of which 30ha is rented. Making the most of grass is a priority.