I recently attended the dinner dance at the Cartland Bridge Hotel to celebrate Lanark & District Young Farmers’ Club’s 75th anniversary.
It was an excellent night with a few refreshments and tales of times gone by. Having been chair of the club a mere 26 years ago, I wasn’t surprised by the vivid recollection of errant behaviour and misdemeanours.
The next day didn’t get off to a great start – bleary eyed, slightly hoarse and not up as early as had been intended. I then discovered the loader tractor had a puncture. I had enough on without repairing the tyre, so decided to use the pump. But in the end, the time spent repeatedly inflating the tyre, I’d have been better completing the repair first thing.
The cattle are now all inside, and have been for three weeks. To reduce costs, we tried to keep them out as long as possible, but ground conditions were deteriorating rapidly and in the end it was a false economy – as those outside were eating just as much, if not more, than the ones already housed.
They have settled in well, although we’re struggling to keep them clean despite regular bedding changes.
I have carried out a pretty thorough assessment of forage stocks and at current usage we should have enough to see us through to the second week in May, but with no surplus to sell.
To give the rest some breathing space, a few cows will be culled this week. Ranging in age from 15 down to nine, two were too old to go to the bull, one was not in-calf and the last one will be culled because of temperament.
Trade isn’t good for cast cows, but the margins on store cattle also look tight, with feed prices substantially up on last year.
If cashflow allows we will avoid marketing any stores until late January or early February, by which time trade will hopefully have improved.
We attended the Limousin Society show and sale at Carlisle in October, and managed to secure a bull for very reasonable money (2,800 gns). The animal has a fair bit of scale and good length, and was one of the few on the day with good EBV figures for calving ease.
I fear there is a danger that some of the breeders of bulls are forgetting why the Limousin breed has gained popularity over the years, as they chase other attributes and prize tickets.
Through the summer we also managed to buy a couple of pure, young Limousin cows with calves at foot. One came with a heifer calf (which may be retained for breeding) and is back in-calf to Lodge Hamlet, a renowned, easy calving Limousin bull. The other has a bull calf at foot. The calf looks nothing special at the moment, but will be reared naturally and allowed to develop. Hopefully, it might yet make the grade as a stock bull.
These purchases mark a return to a previous policy, which unfortunately has slipped, of breeding future stock bulls for home use while also improving the quality of the stock on the farm.
For too long I’ve allowed the process to be dominated by budgetary constraints, but I’ve now reminded myself of the mantra – if you’re spending your life working with something, you may as well work with something you like.
‘Where there’s livestock, there’s deadstock’ applies equally to machinery
A warm May has made for excellent growth rates at Balgray.