Farmer Focus: Upset at having to feed cattle concentrate

It’s Christmas – well nearly. Everything here is now focused on Christmas and the new year.

Our turkeys are growing well and orders are coming in thick and fast – not only in the shop, but from many forums such as online on the shop website, messages on Facebook and Twitter and the usual shouting of “Same size turkey as last year” across the street or foyer of the market.

Our butchers are working flat out, with the usual rush of private kills for farmers and smallholders we get at this time of year.

I am trying to ensure all the background items are in place, everything from turkey thermometers to boxes for the steak pies for New Year’s Day. 

Organising the additional staff we need is always a major planning exercise and this is where having a large family that includes some very hard-working teenagers becomes an advantage.

Our children have always helped in the shop and when we are out catering at events, and they always get paid for every hour they work. I’m a big believer that if you work, you have money; if you don’t work, you don’t have money.

See also: Guide to feed planning and forage for finishing lambs

The cattle are now all in their winter quarters. It’s fair to say I still have a bit of a hangover from last year.

Cattle had a hard winter and when they went to grass they really thrived, but by midsummer the drought took its toll on our grass growth and a lot of the cattle that should have finished off grass are still here.

Some of these cattle are now heading towards 30 months, so I have decided to finish them quickly by using a hard feed to get them off farm to a processor to allow me reset the system. I have been amazed at the rapid weight gain at more than 2.5kg/day, but I’m not so keen on the cost.

The other cattle on their normal diet of swift and silage are looking great and I am looking forward to weighing them again soon.

I am still selling lambs and am down to just over 100. Ewes were bolused again prior to tupping, which is now in full swing.

Michael Shannon is a Farmer Focus writer farming in Lanarkshire. Read his biography