Farmer Focus: Calving over, but hunt for butcher continues

The calving period has nearly finished. As I write this (23 May), we have two heifers and a cow left to calve.

I was a bit wary this year, as in the past I used semen that was selected for calving ease. This year we purchased a Welsh Black bull to run with the herd.

He did an excellent job. All cows are in calf and all within six weeks. We haven’t had any major issues; one assisted, one set of twins and one poorly cow.

All are out grazing now and making the most of the sunshine. The only negative is the high number of bull calves, which won’t help me increase herd numbers.

See also: How to set up rotational grazing on your beef farm

It’s also time for eight-week weights to be taken on the nucleus lambs. We did this on the weekend and it was pleasing to see.

Iwan has done tremendously and all the lambs were looking sharp and healthy. The single average weight was 24.5kg and the twins averaged 21.3kg.

These figures are slightly up on last year, but I won’t tell Iwan that, as we are both rather competitive.

This small difference in lamb weights reinforces the importance of increasing prolificacy within the flock and weaning a high percentage.

Due to the decrease in numbers, the singles aren’t following the twins, but rather grazing their own block, with cattle floating between both mobs to help control pastures. Additional silage will also be cut this year to help manage the decrease in numbers.

It is great to share photos and videos with our customers in the shop and via social media. At this time of year we are selling new-season lamb, hogget and mutton. This has people intrigued and they are eager to sample all to compare taste and texture.

The one restricting factor in the butchery industry is staff. This is most definitely having an effect on our business at the moment.

We are looking for enthusiastic, hard-working and experienced butchers and an apprentice. If anyone reading this is looking for a new challenge, please get in touch. @ShaunHallJones

Shaun Hall Jones and his father Barrie farm 1,000 ewes, including an Abermax nucleus flock, and 40 Welsh Black cattle across 364ha near Llanybydder, Carmarthenshire. New projects include a farm butchery business and a shop in Cardiff.