Farmer Focus: Lambs growing well but wool worthless

Hallelujah. The rain has arrived, just in the nick of time to salvage our new leys and forage crops.

Any later and I think we would have been struggling to fill the pit this year.

The fodder beet is looking healthy and we have just bought some liquid fertiliser to go on the maize in a couple of weeks. It had started to turn yellowish and come to a halt, but this damp spell, combined with mild weather, has altered it no end.

See also: The benefits of fodder beet and how to get the best from it

The ewes have now been shorn. Typical that the weather changed as soon as it was our turn in the queue.

Luckily the shearers are friends of ours so could pull a few strings. It’s disappointing that the wool money won’t come close to covering shearing costs this time.

We could hang on to it and see if the market changes, but shed space is more valuable to us at present so we will have to take the hit this time.

We’ve started weaning lambs so no doubt we will be in the neighbour’s bad books for the next day or two

Overall, we are pleased with how the lambs are maturing this season. We hope to get a load drawn before the trade drops any further, but it looks like the downward pricing spiral has begun.

In the last couple of years we have focused on the new pig enterprise and expanded the suckler herd. Now that we have been able to consolidate our grazing ground closer to home, it is time to focus a little more on the flock once again.

The new ground is more productive and we have already noticed a difference in the growth rate and quality of our lambs this year. This means we can replace the culls with a more prolific ewe.

The estate that we contract manage has had some new arrivals this week. They have also invested in some Luing cattle – mostly cows with calves at foot and a few bulling heifers. They will suit the higher, sheep-sick ground on the estate.

We are pleased with how our own Luings have adapted and their calves are performing well on the SSSI ground.

Read more about Monmouthshire livestock farmer Livy Braid