Farmer Focus: Tough times call for a Swot analysis

When I’m having a challenging time, it is quite beneficial to do a Swot analysis – looking at strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats of the farm.

I don’t necessarily write it down – I just walk around being honest. 

Our principle strengths are the infrastructure we have built up from nothing in 20 years, the animals we have bred up and the experience we have gained.

See also: 4 questions to ask to begin strategic planning for farm businesses

The weaknesses could fill the whole article and are due mainly to external factors that we can’t do much about, so the few we can control are the ones to focus on.

Opportunities are wide and varied, so let’s be realistic. I look at our skillsets, buildings, animals and demands.

The threats are closely linked with the weaknesses, but we should all take a bit of time to be aware of the real threats.

The political rubbish does not help this section. 

It is very easy to get bogged down with the day-to-day stuff, especially when the maize chopper is actually bogged down.

Perhaps buying a field of maize to balance the low-energy, high-protein grass silage in an extremely wet time was not the best idea. Only three trailer loads were chopped before the chopper bellied out, requiring a digger.

Tupping will be over by the time this is published, as they have slowed to practically nothing. Only two cycles in the commercial ewes should finish most, and gives us an end date to look forward to.

Calving challenges

Calving has thrown up some challenges, especially when I would have liked to watch the rugby.

Big hocks presented does not make for a quick exit. Fortunately, I have long arms and got him out safely by half time.

I debated whether I could watch the telly covered in fluids, but the shower won.

I’m quite glad I only get beaten up by sheep and cows now, as the rugby players are about three stone heavier than when I played.

Back in September, we had a bad accident in the tractor in the last field of straw.

Fortunately, Listers at Devizes and NFU Mutual sorted an expensive repair out and we got it back to settle into the winter feeding/bedding routine.

Let’s hope spring is a bit early to balance the early winter.  


James and Belinda Kimber farm 850 commercial and pedigree sheep and 30 pedigree Simmental and Charolais cattle in Wiltshire across 95ha (45ha owned) with the help of their children, Josh, Izzy and Richard. James also runs a foot-trimming business and Belinda has a B&B.