John Davies runs an upland
stock farm in mid-Wales.
The main holding at Pentre
comprises 145ha (360
acres) of grass, with some
short-term grass lets being
taken, and hill rights
extending to 97ha (240
acres). The farm carries 101
suckler cows, 975 ewes,
230 Beulah speckled face
ewe lambs and 35 Welsh
IN the middle of April, we spread fertiliser on the ground which is first to be shut off for silage. Because we were short of grass and sometimes have difficulties with nitrogen levels in the silage, we tried turning the stock out one week after spreading.
If the sun is shining and the longer-term forecast is not too good, impatience sometimes gets the better of me and I cut before the required six weeks.
Marking lambs was going full-swing at the end of April. They seem to be growing well after the initial check due to bad weather. Some with scald were run through the foot-rot bath which seems to have cured it. All the cattle were turned out by May 1 – just in time for the YFC AGM in Torquay.
Its quite a balancing act keeping the grass level correct. Stock must be moved around constantly, with cattle for sale and ewes with twin Mule lambs having the first bite, followed by cows and calves, then in-calf cows to clean it up.
I find the period when the earliest cut is in its final weeks and the later ones are in their early weeks most difficult to gauge. No doubt what I should do if things get too tight is strip graze some ground which had been shut off for silage. This year that doesnt look likely.
I have claimed BSP on some young bulls. Its the first time weve done this and presently they are offering around 90p/kg. I wonder what it will be in two months when their retention period is complete.
By the time you read this well have hopefully sold some cattle in Brecon. The cash flow is desperately needed.
With last years cattle averaging £1.10/kg and to date this years averaging 88p/kg, my policy of holding back as many as possible with the hope that things can only get better is likely to be abandoned in favour of the Basil Loman ethos – first loss is least loss. We have sold cattle when they are ready and not tried to predict the impact on the market of the calf slaughter scheme, re-opening of exports etc, which has been a much more successful policy. *
John Davies… keeping the correct level of grass in front of stock is proving quite a balancing act.