Farmer Focus: Cattle already on winter feed rations

As this is my last article for Farmers Weekly, I am in a reflective mood.

While I remain hugely optimistic about the future of UK agriculture and food production, even my positive outlook on life is being tested at present

Read more from our other livestock farmer focus writers 

I have huge admiration for what my friends in dairy are doing with the “milk trolley challenge”.

They are making a great point and most importantly are keeping public sympathy onside, which is essential. It’s amazing to see the power of social media with this sort of thing and all credit to those involved.

See also: Download your free dairy and lamb price posters

With regards to lamb it’s great to see fellow Farmer Focus columnist Kate Bevan backing the buy British lamb campaign from her twitter account.

The situation in the lamb market is dire, with production up and the strength of the pound against the euro killing the export market, which we rely heavily on for sales of lamb.

As farmers I do feel we are right to take retailers to task about stocking British produce.

But at the same time we need to do all we can to flatten out the peaks in supply and make sure we have produce available for as much of the year as possible.

We have a choice – we either start lambing earlier or later, or change feeding systems to get lambs fit quicker or more slowly (or a combination of both). 

Having such a huge rush of prime lamb arriving at market in July is only going to have one result.

The definition of insanity is “doing what you have always done and expecting a different result”.

Our farm in Dymock is currently a desert with almost no rain and as a result grass growth is somewhere between pathetic and non-existent.

We have ring feeders out in all the grazing fields with hay for the cows and we are already using a lot of creep feed for the calves.

The cattle look well and are happy, but are quickly munching through the winter hay supply.

Bull sales have been excellent and all our hard work on high health planning and marketing has really worked this year.

We have had some brilliant visitors on farm walks and I hope they learn as much from us as we do from them while they visit Melview.

I want to say a huge thank you to everyone that has read my Farmer Focus articles over the years.

I hope they made you smile and think. I will finish with my favourite saying: “Don’t walk away from negative people, run.”

Paul Westaway farms in partnership with his wife Kirsty on a 69ha Gloucester County Council farm, running more than 220 Angus and Holstein Cattle. The pair also run an AI business and have recently launched an online steak and wine shop