Farmer Focus: Sheep figures make for grim reading

I started last month’s column with “our grass growth is now peaking”. This month I could start my column with “our grass growth has now stopped”.

Finding grass for grazing stock has become a daily challenge. We are grazing what should have been second-cut silage.

Paddocks that have been grazed two weeks ago look virtually the same as the day the stock left the paddock. I have applied nitrogen in the hope we will get some growth. 

Stock are looking surprisingly well and our first load of cattle will leave the farm next week for slaughter (off grass). 

See also: Harvest 2018: Grain stores report good barley quality

The shearers arrived on Sunday. I took the opportunity to weigh and get my hand on some of the lambs and was very pleasantly surprised. While the sheep fields look like snooker tables, it’s all young grass and the little bit of growth we are getting must be rocket fuel.

The sheep enterprise has been coming under a lot of scrutiny recently. I decided to break down the costs of the sheep and cattle enterprises and the sheep figures were not good.

It’s fair to say we had the perfect storm in the sheep enterprise last year – enzootic abortion, a high fluke burden, cobalt deficiency and an extremely challenging summer, autumn and winter.

I have had a lot of discussion with the vets and we set ourselves some targets and have a plan already being carried out to deal with most of the challenges.

The extra cost should be easily offset by more sheep leaving the farm on my terms rather than theirs. It takes only two extra living adult sheep to pay for one of the treatments.

Damn Delicious is really busy – Michelle’s new discounted packs are selling really well, as are the hot pies and sandwiches.

This is our busiest time for our outside catering, with our gourmet burgers at various shows and events. It’s great to get out talking to customers and friends and getting the kids involved – even if I do have to pay them.