Farmer Focus: Poor prices for cows from VIA

As Christmas approaches we have enjoyed a few frosty mornings, allowing us to get the dung emptied out of the cattle courts.

The fields are pretty sodden, drains have been working to full capacity and topsoil has been shared with neighbours.

This damp, foggy weather has seen us having to treat a few calves with “hanging lugs”, but we have managed to keep any pneumonia at bay.

Calving has just started and text message reports from the calving probes are a plenty.

Read more from our other livestock farmer focus writers 

Green is the new buzz word. We have decided to invest in a 45kW solar panel project for the top of the cattle court, which hopefully should be in place by the 1 January.

Various tractors have been here on demo, as we mean to change one in the spring. All makes and colours, including various shades of green, have been tested.  

Finally we have been trying to work out cropping rotations to comply with the new CAP greening crop rules set down by the Scottish government.

We sell most of our cast cows deadweight to the local beef processor, but recently they’ve introduced visual image analysis (VIA) to grade the cattle.

This system has a much larger 15-point payment grid, which has worked satisfactorily when selling young bulls.

However, our eyesight and the VIA grading system are differing somewhat when it comes to grading the big purebred cows, and disappointing grades with poorer payments are going to make us trial the live market once again.

The ploughing has all been completed. Our son James has been receiving first-class training from a neighbour and past plough salesman Jim, and has participated in his first ploughing match with some encouraging results.

As Christmas approaches I hope Santa has got our lists… Bob would like the calving to continue smoothly, I would like a few willing elves to clean the house and clear my pile of ironing, our eldest son Andrew thinks he needs a new stock bull, shepherd Brian hopes all the ewes have taken to the tup first go and James can dream on as he wants a Black Fendt!

Wishing you all a very merry Christmas from all at Newhouse. 

Bob and Kay Adam run 100 pedigree Limousin and Charolais cows on their 222ha family farm in Angus and rent a 728ha hill farm running 640 ewes and 30 suckler cows