Farmer Focus: TB tracer test worries

Lamb trade has picked up and we’ve had a buoyant trade in Hereford with store lambs in recent weeks. Unfortunately, as lamb prices increase, so do stock thefts, and reports of sheep rustling have been rising in South Wales.

Only this morning a friend called round and mentioned their neighbour had 24 lambs taken from their field. We are signed up with OWL (Online Watch Link), through which police alert us immediately of any crime in the area. OWL in Gwent has a particularly good crime busting reputation. Rural crime is a big problem and we all need to be vigilant and report any missing stock or equipment.

Read more from our other livestock farmer focus writers 

There are some amazing smells and sounds coming from the cider house as the apple juice ferments following our cider-making courses. We have ordered 100 traditional cider apple trees, which will be collected and planted in December. There was a time when most farms had an orchard and it is heartening to see them re-instated.

It will be a few years before we have a decent crop but diversification not only brings in additional income to the family farm, but also provides employment opportunity for the next generation, so we have to think ahead. With the butchers shop, country school and our developing cider-making business, hopefully the younger Beavans will be kept busy in years to come. Family farms are not as sustainable as they used to be and we are lucky that the next generation here are keen and want to continue farming. 

I’m braving London again this month, giving a talk at the Farm Innovation Show, sharing our journey into diversification.

We’ve just had our six-month bovine TB test reading (we’ve been clear for 18 months), which seems to get more and more stressful each time. After letting out a huge sigh of relief as we got the all clear, we’d just settled down for a nice cup of tea when the postman arrived with some tracer test requests for the other farm, so here we go again. 

Kate Beavan farms 200ha alongside her husband Jim on one of two family farms near Abergavenny, Monmouthshire. The main enterprise comprises of 900 breeding ewes and 50 suckler cows. Meat is sold direct to the family’s traditional butchers shop. Kate and Jim hosted the first series of Lambing Live in 2010