Farmer Focus: Finally received our BPS payment

Spring has arrived here at Glen Farm. It has stopped raining and we have finally received our BPS payment.

However, if it wasn’t for the efforts of the Farming Community Network and NFU, I think we would still be waiting like thousands of other farmers. I am very thankful to them for their help. Some serious questions have to be asked when you have to call on a charity to help get your support payment.

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The council have also decided to freeze rents across the estate for 12 months, which is welcome news for tenants. It will help us to get through a very challenging year.

We scanned the ewe lambs earlier this month at 96%, which is pretty good for May lambing. Hopefully they will be put onto plantain with lambs at foot to give them a good start.

The main flock of ewes will be brought back to the better grass leys here this week with about two weeks to go before they are due to start lambing.

See also: BPS delay puts huge pressure on cashflow

The ewes are grazing HLS ground, supplemented with hay, fodder beet and mineral blocks. I have also been busy sending Angus weanlings away. I have had some very good feedback from the wagon drivers and finishing units regarding the quality of the cattle, which is pleasing.

We will now wean the remaining calves, and wash and disinfect sheds ready for another batch between lambing ewes and hoggets.

My next area of focus is going to be how to expand the farming business without adding to my already heavy workload. I need to find ways to make things easier and reduce working hours, while maintaining profitability.

For example, would I be better off feeding fodder beet to ewes on existing and fenced HLS ground rather than putting up electric fences on extra wintering that is further away? Constant phone calls about sheep getting out are making me think that simple and easy is the way forward.

Jim Beary contract rears 900 calves a year and has a growing flock of Aberfield-cross New Zealand Romneys on a county council farm. He also runs a contract gritting enterprise in winter.