Farmer Focus: The Xmas rush has started

Cattle are all settled into their winter crops and so far, so good.

The forage total-mixed-ration group are looking good and seem to focus on the fodder beet first every morning when they are moved.

The fattening group on the pure fodder beet are looking good and the last six killed averaged 323kg deadweight.

I haven’t weighed any of the groups to check daily liveweight gain yet, as I think it takes the first few weeks to adjust to the crops.

Nothing really to report yet on the variety comparison although I am seeing differences starting to appear as we get more frosts.

See also: Simon Bainbridge is hoping safe bull pens will assist with lameness

The tups are in. Within the first five minutes of meeting the girls every one of them had been in action, so let’s hope they are all twins and they all hold.


It has been an extremely busy month in the butchery and this is likely to continue right into the new year.

The website has been really busy with orders going literally all over the British Isles – for example, today’s orders went to Londonderry, Thurso, Dagenham and Weymouth.

There always seems to be a flurry of private kills to be butchered and packed at this time of year too.

The butchers will be flat out with these up to the second week of December – then its turkey time.

We only sell our own turkeys – all Norfolk Black, all free range and all hand plucked and game hung.

While there is great satisfaction in only selling products that you produce yourself, it obviously creates a considerable amount of extra work.

Busy Christmas

Everyone is focused on Christmas. I am trying to make sure all the stock and personnel are where they should be, the butchers are busy planning what and when they will need products, the shop staff are busy dealing with and taking orders.

Michelle is busy spending money, making sure that our eight kids have the usual wonderful Christmas she always organises for us.

My household contribution at Christmas – Christmas dinner from start to finish.

It is tradition in this area to have steak pie at new year, so as soon as the Christmas holiday is over we start making steak pies – 24 hours a day. Don’t expect too much sense from any of us until about the 5 January.

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.