As I write this I reflect on our annual trip to Stirling bull sales.
This year we took two heifers and six Beef Shorthorn bulls and on the whole, it was a success.
Heifers averaged 2,250gns and bulls averaged 5,450gns for four sold.
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We returned home with two bulls unsold. Both were embryos with antipodean parents, which offer new bloodlines to the UK. For various reasons, they were not in demand.
We like them, however, and believe they have excellent maternal characteristics so will likely retain them as stock bulls for crossbred and stud cows.
Since the sale, we have seen an increased demand for bulls at home, which is great.
Selling bulls like this ensures our buyers get something best suited to their needs and which not overfed for sale.
Over the past year, the balance of cow breeding has swung in favour of the purebreds at Fearn.
Our plan now is to stick with that trend until all of our 120 cows on the home unit are purebred.
This will allow us to blend different genetics through AI and natural service.
This will also allow us to cull hard, only keeping the best for the bull market while finishing the remaining male calves along with heifers not suited for breeding.
Feedback from friends and relatives who have bought Shorthorn beef from us is extremely positive.
We have an excellent butcher who does the cutting and packing for us creating a real “wow factor” when we deliver to customers.
We are unsure how big the market is for our beef but with Brexit on the horizon, we are looking at adding value wherever we can.
Lambing starts 12 March and we are monitoring ewe condition closely. Any lighter ewes are running with the triplets in smaller batches.
Most batches of ewes are strip grazing fodder beet and so far I have been very impressed with the way they are thriving.
I am concerned they may be in too good a condition and managing intakes for the past couple of weeks pre-lambing will need careful thought.
Finally, the highlight of the Stirling trip was sneaking through to Murrayfield for Scotland’s win over Ireland in the Six Nations. I was accompanied by James, 15, and Archie, 9, on his first trip there and it was a fantastic day out.
John and Fiona Scott farm 200 suckler cows, 4,500 breeding ewes as well as some crops across 2,226ha. He also has two contract farming operations and generates energy from a small-scale wind turbine and biomass boiler.