Farmer Focus: Combine price could buy a family home

The cold snap brought some blue sky with it, which was nice. It lifts the soul. I can’t vouch for the rest of the country, but it’s been very grim in Yorkshire.

It’s time to swap the combine at Osgoodby Grange. I priced up two new models from two manufacturers with the same capacity as my old one, as I fancied the five-year warranties on offer.

Wow, what a shock I got. You could buy a decent four-bedroom family house for that sort of outlay.

See also: Strong stores mean beef finishers need £5.30/kg

About the author

Doug Dear
Livestock Farmer Focus writer
Doug Dear farms 566ha (1,400 acres) of arable land growing wheat, spring and winter barley, maize and oilseed rape and runs a custom feedyard, contract-finishing about 2,400 cattle a year near Selby, North Yorkshire. Most cattle are finished over 90-120 days for nine deadweight outlets, as well as Selby and Thirsk markets.
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Machinery prices are becoming unsustainable. I’m not a fan of finance, and tend to pay for what I can out of my back pocket.

But it would be very easy to fall into the trap of your repayments not keeping up with the machine wearing out, and the depreciation.

It’s a shame there isn’t a remanufacture programme in place; Caterpillar, Keenan, Detroit Diesel and others have been doing it for years.

We all know what the bomb-proof models are, they just need reincarnating with wearing parts sorted, and a few modern thrills.

Top of my list would be a Steiger Panther, with pre-emission CAT 3406B engine. I’d only add a new steering valve connected to a Trimble guidance system, and a set of Goodyear LSW tyres.

Our cattle sales are up 20% on last year, and January is looking to be another big month. Alternative meat sales are dwindling to nothing, and companies are going bust. Need I say more.

It’s been hard battling the continuously wet weather, especially with outside yarded cattle. We have gone through a frightening amount of straw.

I wouldn’t change the system though, as cattle have thrived, especially the Angus. The housed cattle (with pneumonia in the background) haven’t performed as well as the yarded cattle.

We started the winter with a straw deficit and are now rationing what’s left. Going into a new cereal season with nothing much drilled, I’m sure if the price is right, arable farmers may bale straw instead of chopping it.

Social media is awash with instant experts on water management telling people with local knowledge how to get water to flow up hill. No beavers round here, just a Mastenbroek and some permeable fill.