Farmer Focus: Could lambing later be more beneficial?

Lambing is in full swing here now. Most of the older ewes lambed within 10 days, so the teaser rams appear to have done their job.

The weather has been challenging at times, but thankfully lamb and ewe mortality are much lower than this time last year.

Grass and plantain growth have been slow, but covers were good at the start so we are now seeing the benefit of preserving lambing pastures over winter.

As a result, the ewes appear to be milking better and initial lamb growth is looking very good.

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If we are going to continue to have wetter, colder and later springs, I am beginning to wonder if lambing a bit later in April would be more beneficial to my type of system.

It would give a bigger window to apply spring fertiliser, more time for grass to get going, and hopefully the weather would be kinder and ground conditions drier.

The downside of this may be missing out on the tail end of high spring-lamb prices.

See also: Farmer Focus: Relentless rain testing farm infrastructure

We recently had a meeting to discuss calf rearing key performance indicators with the rearing managers and vets.

These have improved each batch and are now among the best nationally. It is great to see that our hardwork and attention to detail are having a positive impact, and I’m very pleased with the quality of the cattle leaving the farm.

It has been four years now since I took on the tenancy here at Glen Farm, there have been plenty of highs and lows, lots of mud, sweat and even the occasional tear.

I don’t have a shiny new tractor or the most up-to-date equipment like many of my friends or neighbours, but when I look back on the past four years I feel proud of how much the farm has improved and the quality of the stock that I have managed to produce.

You don’t always realise how much you have achieved until you take time to stop and think about it and look at how much more you have than when you first started.

Jim Beary contract rears 900 calves/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.