Farmer Focus: More bad TB news

Shearing is well under way here. It is the earliest we have ever started and at least three weeks earlier than last year.

The sheep shore well, despite some reluctance from my contractor, Gareth, to make a start. What was a surprise was that some of the ewes had maggots.

Up until mid-May it has been very dry with some frost. My spring barley has struggled to get out of the ground and when it did the crows had a great time feeding off it.

Grass growth has been minimal. As I write this the weather has broken and become unsettled bringing much-needed rain.

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The TB reactor I mentioned last month has been removed from the farm. Post-mortem results showed visible lesions and my request to bring a bull on farm has been denied.

I am disappointed at the decision, but we are hoping that we will be allowed to bring on a bull when they review my case after my first 60-day test in mid-June.

In the meantime, we are having to use AI, something we have never used before. Catching the cows in the shed has been ok, but since turning cows and calves out it has become more difficult.

Business grant

I attended a Farming Connect event with over 400 other farmers in Newtown. Attendance was a requirement of being able to apply for the Welsh farm business grant – 40% can be claimed on a range of equipment and machinery.

The minimum grant available is £3,000 and the maximum is £12,000. From the attendance at these meetings it shows that this is very well-targeted and accessible to all with capital items to suit most farms. Hopefully there will be enough money to go around to all that apply.

Our poultry unit has started to be built, our birds have been ordered and everyone is lined up ready to go.

We are feeling very excited about our new venture, although slightly apprehensive at all we have to learn and the thought of three rough and tumble young boys in an egg shed.

Mark and Helen Williams run 1,000 ewes and 40 suckler cows across 283ha of part owned and rented land.