Farmer Focus: Pondering what to do with 10 breeding bulls

John Lennon wrote: “Strange days indeed, most peculiar mama.”

Lambing is always socially isolating – work, eat, ablutions and sleep. This is followed by emerging in the spring looking forward to a summer with new life and optimism. It’s going to be rather different this year.

Foot and mouth hit us after lambing, but the world continued. How long this pandemic continues will determine how the world emerges from it.

See also: Coronavirus: Marts suspend breeding stock sales

Last year, I wrote that the experiment with fast food hadn’t worked. Perhaps people will now have to use cookbooks and raw ingredients – surely better for good health.

There is a lot of noise on social media asking for farmers producing food to be praised as well. Unfortunately, most farmers don’t produce food, but rather commodity products.

We don’t sell a leg of lamb or a beef steak or a loaf of bread. Even most fruit and veg producers supply pack houses. So, in these challenging times, we do need full co-operation and support in the food supply chain.

At the time of writing the sheep prices have crashed, for multiple reasons. Historically, once the price is down it takes a long time to rise again.

This cannot happen now, as we need domestic production. If total revenue is not distributed fairly, farmers will not simply continue to take a kicking.

Packing shelves for £9.80 an hour is more appealing than being wrongly blamed for climate change/animal welfare or whatever the latest idiots feel like accusing us of.

The children are currently outside playing “spot the plane”, while the adults are calculating how much food the environmentalists are actually producing.

Our biggest problem is the cancellation of breeding sales. We are now feeding 10 bulls very expensive feed and exploring alternative marketing options – or to kill, cut our losses and move on to next year.

We are left with 32 hoggets which weren’t quite ready. The 180 that were sold averaged just under £100, having eaten £3,200 of pellets, so we need the remainder away to pay for the feed.

We also have some cull cows, all over 1,000kg, which sell well at auction but are severely punished deadweight. We need the markets open to generate competition.

I hope you all stay well and emerge more appreciated and valued by society.