Farmer Focus: Body condition-score dilemma in suckler cows

I am writing this on my first day of holiday. It is always a great time to put life into perspective.

The week leading up to any holiday always seems excessively manic and this year was no exception.

During the last week we had our annual TB test, which I’m very pleased to say we got all the all-clear.

TB testing presents a great opportunity to assess body condition in the autumn-calving herd. We are probably down at least half a body condition score from normal.

This is largely due to keeping the cows a lot tighter because of  the lack of grass. The big question now is: Do I try to let them gain some of that condition back with just over a month to calving?

See also: Read more from our other livestock Farmer Focus writers 

My autumn bulls still seem to outperform their spring-born contemporaries by some distance.

The last weight recording showed an average gain of 2.2kg/day across the whole group, and with beef prices on the up, it is always enjoyable producing cattle that are performing well and that will leave a decent margin. I have also been able to pull out a number of bulls in the top 5% of the breed on all traits.

We have just finished cutting another 12ha of grass for the clamp. It is still not full and I feel we may need more yet.

We did attempt to cut another 40ha at Walcot, but the concrete panels, which were promised a week earlier to make much-needed repairs to the clamp, failed to materialise.

I’m hoping this will have been done in my absence.

Having time away from the farm is always good and despite being able to switch off quite easily, I always love coming home and getting straight back into it.

I have thoroughly enjoyed my time as a Farmer Focus writer and have appreciated all the kind comments people have given me, but like most things in life, it has to come to an end.

James Evans farms 300 Stabiliser suckler cows and 1,110 Llen-cross ewes across two units, totalling 825ha, in Shropshire. He was 2012 Farmers Weekly Beef Farmer of the Year.