Farmer Focus: Grazing club highlights performance potential

It seems so much is happening both on and off the farm at the moment. We have had a number of farm visits, two of which have been from chefs, and others from within the food service industry.

The two events organised by Asda and Eblex gave an insight into how farms such as mine produce beef and lamb and all the work that goes into it. The response was great and I genuinely felt that everyone left with a better understanding, myself included. It dawned on me afterwards that despite the fact we are producing beef and lamb for these people, there is very little understanding of how they perceive our industry and vice versus. We definitely need more joined-up thinking, but it also gives us a great chance to eat out more.

Lambing is now over and we have vaccinated and drenched all the lambs and had a tally up. Things are looking very positive, with a rearing rate at just over 1.6, which I am more than happy with on a low-input, outdoor system.

Calving has now slowed down, but having calved 82% in six weeks, it had to slow down sometime. Out of 150 cows calved, we have 149 calves with just two assisted births. I’m convinced good weather reduces the overall stress on the cows, which benefits everything. Long may it continue.

More articles from James Evans

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We have recently started a grazing club within the Marches area, and what a great idea it is to get a group of like-minded farmers together and analyse one another’s grazing systems. What I didn’t bank on was that I would be first and everything that I was doing was ripped apart, chewed up and then spat out. But I have to say I found it quite a positive experience, knowing how much more potential performance I could gain. I just can’t wait until the next meeting when it’s not on my farm.

Having recently met up with some old friends at a rugby match, they instantly asked me where my blue-checked shirt was, as every time they see me in Farmers Weekly I am wearing the same shirt. To put the record straight, Farmers Weekly took several photos on the same day of me wearing the shirt in question. To put everyone’s minds at rest, other shirts are available, but I’m always open to offers for new ones.

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.

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