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 Mule ewes.
PENTRE Farm is 8 miles from Brecon, and is a traditional family farm run in partnership with my father Elwyn, mum Olwen and my wife Menna, who are often called on to lend a hand.
The soil is predominantly red sand stone, and the land runs from 800 to 1150ft. I am the youngest of three brothers – all of whom run a similar, separate business – and two sisters. I am currently vice-chairman of Wales Young Farmers Club and do a small amount of work for Farmplan, after having initiated and helped to develop the beef programme.
Creating employment – or making work as Dad calls it – is important to me, and Im lucky to be able to call on a number of skilled casual workers when busy or when a YFC trip is called for, which is quite often!
Our next major project will be building a sheep shed of 105ft x 50ft. The site has been levelled and were just waiting for it to be delivered.
The reason for building the shed is optimism on the sheep front. This year our mule ewe lambs averaged £76.66, with three kept on which were too small to sell, so we cant lose too many to inclement March weather.
Having extended the cattle shed by a couple of bays this time last year, and then finding that rotavirus and Mr Dorrell had decided that keeping sucklers was not a good idea, I hope that budgets concerning the sheep shed will not be affected in the same way.
We presently have 26 steers and 40 heifers at Pentwyn which are going along nicely. We hope to finish them off grass in the summer. Theyre getting 0.75kg BOCM Intensive Beef and silage which analyses at DM 54.6, crude protein 19, D value 74.2 and ME 11.9 – an analysis which I was quite pleased with, and more importantly, the cattle seem to be too!
Our 490 ewes in lamb to the Blue Faced Leicester ram are presently on holiday in Pembroke. Just under half of then are carrying twins. Surprisingly, last year the Mule wethers averaged less than the speckle lambs which were kept entire. We sold some Mules and a few Rouge cross too early during July. The speckle lambs were marketed later and averaged £46 with some 30 left. The Mules and a few Rouge cross averaged £42.63 with around 10 left to sell.
The dry weather has allowed some muck spreading, and the frosty weather in early January saw a blitz on cattle work. The spring calves were injected with Dectomax and drenched with Lloyds Agrimin. The following day, the autumn calves had the same treatment.
At the beginning of the year we also installed a tank for molasses and were now mixing Rumenco Scotmol with straw and silage in the mixer wagon and they seem to be improving. Certainly time will tell. I hope to weigh them in the crush, an Allflex FX31 which weighs and downloads information directly into the computer indoors. Analysing the results is at least a change from thawing water bowls! *
The computer plays a vital role in analysing liveweight gain of suckler progeny at Pentre Farm according to our new contributor John Davies .