Farmer Focus: Cattle growing well but beef price still poor

In life we can always be sure that we will have at least have one fan – our mother.

But after last month’s column my 89-year-old mother wasn’t as complimentary as usual. “Too negative Michael,” she said, to which I replied: “That’s the reality of beef farming at the moment.”

So while the fat price hasn’t improved since I last wrote I have decided my mum is right and there are a lot of things to be positive about on the farm.

More cattle have left and have killed out really well, with an average carcass weight of 349kg. Cattle are looking really well and the scales show it, with many cattle still running at 1.7kg of daily liveweight gain.

Grass growth has been phenomenal. I even got a break in the weather and our contractors were able to get our arable silage and another 12ha of second cut in the pit in perfect conditions.

See also: Replacing cereals with forage can increase beef gross margin by £115 a head

I was probably about two weeks late for the peas in the mix, but that is part of the joy of farming in Scottish weather conditions.

The undersown grass is full of red and white clover, so hopefully this will be rocket fuel for the lambs. The pit is as full as I have seen it.

I have decided to buy some extra nitrogen to store for next year, it’s my little bit of planning for a no-deal Brexit where there could be large levies applied and the currency could do anything – although I could be completely wrong.

I have been appointed as a director of Farmstock Scotland, which is our Scotland-wide farmer marketing co-op.

I have always sold my surplus lambs through Farmstock and firmly believe that in these days, with the reduction in options of meat processor/buyers, our only option is to join forces as a collective voice.

We have had to update the Damn Delicious website and the new site has gone live and we are now “mobile friendly”.

I am really chuffed with the new site and hopefully everyone will find it really easy to use and will place lots and lots of orders.

Michael Shannon finishes 150 head of mostly Angus beef stores each year and runs 280 Scotch Mules on a 100ha forage-only enterprise, as well as free-range turkeys for Christmas, near Biggar, Lanarkshire. Meat is sold through his online business and farm shop Damn Delicious, with surpluses sold deadweight.

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