Farmer Focus: We are caught in bovine TB cycle

The sun eventually came back out and we managed to combine our barley.  The straw is baled and stacked in the shed, ready for the winter months. 

We have spread muck and direct-drilled the stubble with volenda turnips. It may be a bit late going in, but should provide some winter grazing and mop up any spare nutrients.

We are pleased with the job done and hope it will be a good feed for the sheep later in the year.

See also: Read more from our livestock Farmer Focus writers

As we write this we are undergoing our second short-interval TB test.  Our last test was clear, so we are very much hoping for a clear test this time so restrictions can be lifted. 

TB seems to have been a regular feature in our writing over the past two years. I do hope the Welsh government can get on top of the disease now it has committed to tackle TB both in cattle and wildlife.

We have recently purchased a new ram from the Innovis ram sale – an Aberblack this time. This is our first Aberblack – previously we had Abermax, Aberfield and Sufftex rams. 

We have always been pleased with our Innovis rams. They produce the type of lambs we want, either to sell fat or for replacement breeding ewes.

More importantly, they survive for more than one season.

Caught up in ‘TB cycle’

This is our final Farmer Focus article. We thought at first it would be a struggle to think of something to write each month, but actually the farm is a busy place and we are often surprised by how much we have done each month.

A lot has happened in the past two years. We have had numerous elections and an EU referendum leading to the uncertain and still hotly discussed Brexit. 

On the farm we have been caught up in the cycle of clear TB tests followed by TB restrictions. We have also “plucked” up the courage to diversify into free-range egg production.

So far we are glad we did, as the birds are laying well, the muck is a bonus with its fertiliser value and it seems to fit well with what we currently do. 

Alongside all these new changes we continue to look at ways to improve the efficiency of our beef and lamb enterprises – the mainstays of the farm.

Mark and Helen Williams run 1,000 ewes and 40 suckler cows across 283ha of part owned and rented land.