Farmer Focus: Much harder to cheat in Charolais breeding

We cut our silage earlier than last year. In 2018we had to wait for silage panels to arrive before harvesting it.

It looks as if we have some young, high-quality grass that has dried well.

Optimistically, I followed with some fertiliser, as we were extremely dry. Now, with some moisture, it is coming along nicely. 

Shearing has not gone as well. Cold and wet weather made fleeces hard and one-third of the ewes were not ready for shearing this time, so in true farmer fashion, I could have done with less rain after going through a drought.

Some lambs had scald, so my wife, Bee, sprayed feet while I sheared.

See also: How to select a sire for your suckler herd using EBVs

Foot-trimming, along with the shearing, gave me an aching back. I am still playing catch-up with my loyal foot-trimming customers after nine weeks away for lambing.

We took a bull and dry cow to the Bath and West Show and won all the Simmental cups. We managed a male champion cup at the Three Counties Show too. 

My fantastic idea of putting turnips in the reseed fields to control frit fly, wireworm and leatherjackets did not take flea beetle into account.

Only about 1.5ha survived. We redrilled 8ha at the beginning of May, but dry weather left bare fields.

I am now researching a break crop for spring planting for an autumn reseed that is not brassica related. 

I have been employing a not-so-very-high-tech approach on the grazing fields. The magnesium lick buckets are 22cm high, so if I can see half of the bucket, the sheep go, and they leave when the bucket is fully visible.

I have finished on the Charolais Society council after six exciting years, which started with us dealing with a disciplinary action over questionable birth dates and birth weights.

In my time on the council, the society has changed the DNA profiling for parent verification and myostatin.

This should result in a more robust society, with the integrity of the pedigrees and recording at the forefront.

By using the Breedplan system, the breed depends on breeders putting quality information in to get quality estimated breeding values out.

James and Belinda Kimber farm 850 commercial and pedigree sheep and 30 pedigree Simmental and Charolais cattle in Wiltshire across 95ha (45ha owned) with the help of their children, Josh, Izzy and Richard. James also runs a foot-trimming business and Belinda has a B&B.