Farmer Focus: Hope barn conversion is ready for next summer

There are two very happy girls in our home this week, finally able to get back to school.

The excitement about going is great to see and I think they will appreciate the structure to the day it brings. 

As lockdown has taken a big shift back to normality, holidaying on Anglesey was back with a bang in mid-July. It’s showing no signs of slowing down.

Footpaths on the farm have never been so busy. Our Airbnb caravan has been booked back-to-back since July right through to October and local restaurants continue to be booked out. 

This is vital for the island’s economy. I just hope we are not sleep-walking into another surge in new cases and it’s the schools and children that suffer the consequences.

See also: Top tips and advice on diversification from farmers

We have just started work on a barn conversion on the farm.

Planning was secured years ago for two. We completed one – which was our family home for a few years – and the time now feels right to start the second. 

Going by the success of the caravan I think we will go down the holiday let route and are hoping to have it completed to catch some of next year’s summer.

On the farm things are ticking over as autumn approaches.

The weather has made grazing more of a challenge. Cows have not appreciated the rainfall or low dry matter grass. 

This year’s calves have felt the brunt of the weather too and the lightest have struggled in the past few weeks.

As a result, we have pulled the bottom 15% out into their own group and they can have some tender loving care with some additional feed and no competition from their heavier peers.

The cows have been scanned with an 11-week in-calf rate of 88% and 70% in first six weeks. With a 12-week mating period I suspect we will have an overall empty rate in the single digits somewhere. 

It is a shade lower than last year, which is not wholly unexpected with the herd having a high proportion of cows now in their sixth lactation and some unseasonably hot weather in May that coincided with serving and early pregnancy.

Johnjo Roberts is a Farmer Focus writer on Anglesey. Read his biography.