Farmer Focus: Feeling optimistic this year with culls at £124

By the time you read this we will have held an on-farm meeting entitled “Sheep with no subsidy”.

We have been running the commercial ewes without a December payment on rented ground. As I have said before, it concentrates the mind. 

Last season the commercial ewes were tupped on forage rape, resulting in loads of lambs (225% scanning rate). The triplets proved costly, with the resulting losses being unacceptable. 

So, this season they were tupped on grass leys and then put onto poor-quality grass. The result, unfortunately, was not enough lambs (175% scanning).

See also: 3 ways to capitalise on high sheep scanning percentage

About the author

James and Belinda Kimber
Livestock Farmer Focus writers James and Belinda farm 850 commercial and pedigree sheep and 30 pedigree Simmental and Charolais cattle in Wiltshire across 95ha (45ha owned) with the help of their children Josh, Izzy and Richard. James also runs a foottrimming business and Belinda has a B&B.
Read more articles by James and Belinda Kimber

We probably can’t save the difference in costs, but the physical work will be significantly less and hopefully we will see significantly lower mortality.

The blood profiles for the pedigree ewes have shown a lack of protein in those carrying singles. The advice is to give a little soya in their mix, but if they are helped too much the resulting lamb is too big and the “side exit” is often needed. I’m hanging off a few more weeks and will condition-score again.

We will profile the commercial ewes after housing and will have to be careful with a few three-quarter Texels coming in this year – I don’t want lambing difficulties with these.

The empty ewes went to the first market of the year, topping at £168 a head and banking £124 on average. 

Two really good-looking cows have also been cashed in at £1,813 each. My desire to keep such cows must not override commercial realities. No calf means no income.

I pulled a muscle in my lower back when throwing a dead sheep over a gate.

The problem probably started when I had to retreat from a large willow tree I was pollarding. A branch decided to fall in the opposite direction to the plan.

It makes you realise that, Covid-19 aside, there are so many other possible ways to meet your maker.

So, optimism has got to be the best way forward, I think. Here’s hoping most of the public help us – and help themselves – by enjoying a high-quality balanced diet this year.