Farmer Focus: Control costs to make sucklers pay

Well I can’t believe almost another month has gone by and my only concern is having too much grass. With lambing all but over I can honestly say we have had the best lambing ever, with very little assistance and lots of healthy lambs.

Calving is also going extremely well and with 75% cows calved in the first month I am more than happy. One of the best things is that all the calves have been born unassisted and we haven’t had to help anything suckle, which can dramatically increase the workload at an already busy time.

This week has seen five bulls successfully semen tested and they will be picked up by their new owners shortly. One thing I have noticed this year is far more bull purchases are concerned with selecting bulls for maternal traits. The common theme is that in the past dairy cross terminal sire breeds have been used, while the cows have plenty of milk this is where any maternal traits end.

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Thankfully the Stabiliser breed has focused heavily on maternal traits and although this may be seen as a blatant plug, an open day on 20 May at Wold Farm in Yorkshire will be explaining the significance of net feed efficiency (NFE) and how it can dramatically improves the bottom line of our suckler industry. I often get challenged on the term and the significance of NFE, but in layman’s terms it’s basically a measurement which will maintain the cow’s bodyweight, but at the same time reduce the amount of food she eats, hence more cows to the acre, leading to better margins. I do often rant on about things like this.

Although we can’t control the beef price we also need to be aware that they are as high as the consumer can afford at the moment. That’s why we need to make as many savings from our end as we possibly can if we are to have a profitable suckler industry.

With lots of farm walks already booked and the show season nearly upon us I always look forward to meeting familiar faces and also getting challenged on my views. The Beef Expo is on in Hexham this year and it’s the one event that I really enjoy and am always on the lookout for the latest innovation or something that’s going to save me a few quid!

James Evans farms 300 Stabiliser suckler cows and 1,110 Llen cross ewes across two units, totalling 825ha, in Shropshire. He was 2012 Farmers Weekly Beef Farmer of the Year