Farmer Focus: Wool cheque from 800-plus sheep was worth £43

The past month has been an unbelievable time for grass growth here, with a lot of rain and warmth.

Our third cut silage will be pending by the time you read this, with the quality and quantity looking great.

We are feeding this year’s first cut to the milkers. We saw a sudden jump in yield when we initially moved on to it, and fat and protein percentages fell due to dilution. Since then we’ve pulled them back to settle the levels and the fat is back above 4%. 

See also: 5 ways a Cheshire dairy has reduced ration costs

We have gathered the fell singles for the first time since they lambed. The lambs are looking excellent and the ewes were in surprisingly good condition, considering how dry it has been with minimal grass on the fell.

Now the rain has come there is ample grass, so we have turned the twins to the fell to let them get hefted with their mothers before weaning.

This was the earliest we have ever shorn the fell sheep and they wouldn’t want to have been done any earlier, but they were OK, although the wool is worthless. Our whole wool crop from 2019 for 800 ewes plus hoggs came to £43 for Swaledale, Highlander and Cheviot wool.

We currently have a lot of cows dry due to a drop in fertility when we served last year and consequently we calved very few in May and June.

We have just started calving a lot more now and we have had the first three cows from the Ballyginniff herd calve from our servings.

We are also calving cows that were served in a trial with male Angus sexed semen to get just bull calves. We saw only a 1% drop in conception when we went from conventional Angus semen to sexed, and this would include cows that were sub-fertile.

We did this to reduce the risk of calving difficulties and to increase the value of calves.

It seems Angus heifer calves are much lower in value compared with bulls when we are selling calves for beef rearing.

Patrick Morris-Eyton is a Farmer Focus writer from Cumbria. Read his biography.