Farmer Focus: Cross-bred calves are 42kg heavier

We have been experimenting with different cattle breeds now that we feel the sheep genetics are at a high level.

We were running a herd of Welsh Black, but have been introducing Stabilisers. Having weaned in early December – at seven to eight months – the results show how important genetics and selecting appropriately are.

Both results are pleasing, with the cross-bred cattle just edging it, as would be expected. The Stabiliser-cross calves weaned at an average of 336kg and the Welsh Blacks were 294kg.

It is also very pleasing that we have a conception rate of 96%, which will hopefully allow us to continue to grow the herd.

See also: How a maternal breed is Brexit-proofing Northumberland estate

It has been a year since we opened the butchery and started our field-to-fork journey. The year has seen steady progress and encouraging signs.

Provenance and local produce are high on people’s agenda, but without sacrificing value and affordability. This means we have had to improve efficiencies from gate to plate.

Leaner staffing, less concentrates fed to stock and better yielding of carcasses all put pressure on everyone involved, yet are all very necessary in today’s climate.

We are heading for our busy season, with everyone wanting to source the finest Christmas meat.

The new year will see a decline in sales as consumers feel the effects of the Christmas spending and also look to lose the excess weight gained.

This will allow us to assess our progress, learn from our mistakes and plan for the year ahead.

We have taken on a second butchery premises in Cardiff and will be looking to open in the first quarter of 2019.

There are many challenges ahead for the farm and butchery business, with attracting staff high on the list of priorities.

This year has been tough for the farming community, and the next promises nothing different. The one certainty is that farmers will continue to work hard and ensure the countryside continues to provide for the wider community.

Thank you to anyone reading my articles. I try to share my experience of leaving my full-time role on the family farm and moving to the city.

Merry Christmas to all Farmers Weekly readers and a new year full of good fortune. 

Shaun Hall Jones is a Farmer Focus writer in Carmarthenshire. Read his biography.