Farmer Focus: Wholecrop has proved to be a challenge

We scanned the heifers (aged 17 months) at the beginning of October. Out of a total of 42, 35 are in-calf after six weeks with the bull.

We only want to keep the most fertile, so those not in-calf will be finished.

They’ve averaged 525kg and done 0.95kg/hd/day since birth on milk, grass, clover and forage.

Cows are being scanned this week after nine weeks with the bull.

See also: Shed build on hold as milk price drops further

The under-sown wholecrop is in. This has challenged my patience. It was drilled too late and when the perfect harvesting weather came we waited, as the triticale ears had not filled.

The weather turned, as did my mood (apparently), with part of the 55 acres with oats going flat.

We will not be drilling so late, waiting so long or using triticale again, as there is no explanation yet as to why the grains never filled.

See also: Read more from the livestock farmer focus writers 

We’ve condition-scored the ewes and those with a score below three were put on to better going.

It’ll be interesting to see if production goes up. Ewes, tups and ewe lambs feet have been inspected and foot-vaxed. Only 12 out of 1,800 had poorly feet, but no foot rot.

New tups have been MoT’d and semen-tested by my vet and all have passed. The old tups are still on the to-do list.

Lambs are rotationally grazing red clover fogs. At one point 933 wether lambs were in an 8.43-acre field. We’re drawing when ready and moving round six fields. Lambs are killing 2kg heavier deadweight than this time last year, probably due to their mineral bolus and the good growing season.

We’re in an organic uplands ELS/HLS and are thrilled at the results on our farm, however displeased to probably be in the later batch of payments as they’ve just got round to looking at my claim.

Stewardship schemes in the uplands are a vital source of income and positive influence on pollinators, birds, soil and water.

It’s a shame if years of good work was undone by farmers being unable to successfully access the new schemes.

Simon Bainbridge runs a 650ha organic farm in Northumberland alongside his wife Claire and his parents. With 150 suckler cows and 1,5000 breeding ewes, healthy maternal livestock and quality feed are priorities.