Matthew Biffen has been busy establishing the spring barley and ensuring a successful calving for their 120 Simmental based cows.
“This year, we are trialling liquid fertiliser for the crops. We are paying £96/ha to apply liquid fertiliser which includes the fertiliser with application the equivalent of 150kg/acre of 34.5% nitram,” Matthew said.
“So this is saving us six bags of fertiliser which can be used on the grass.
“I have wanted to try liquid fertiliser to see how it performs before we decide if we want to invest in new equipment.
“We are going to need fertiliser for the grass with this colder growing season and we can put some onto the winter wheat if we feel it needs a top up.
“This year, we are planting 16 acres of fodder beet again. The muck is spread and we are waiting for it to warm up a bit before we plough it and get the drill.
“This is likely to be into the second week of May before we are away from the frost at night.
“The 16 acres will get 1t of salt spread over all of it and 125kg of seed bed fertiliser per acre.
“Then we will apply a pre-emerge spray followed by a spray for weeds once the crop is established. The beet will be used mainly for the cows with some going straight from grass on to the field once they are weaned in November.”
“This winter we will also be growing 40 acres of stubble turnips. This will be drilled in after winter barley.
“The contractor will put the subsoiler on the front of the drill to help reduce soil compaction.
“The field has been silaged in the past and I am keen to break up any hard pans. The stubble turnip field will also get a pre-planting dressing of 100kg of 34.5% nitram per acre.
“The crop will mainly be used for fattening lambs and feed ewes with the first animals into the field before Christmas.”
“Calving has gone well this year with less than 40 out of 120 left to calve. We have only have one caesarean section and intervened in a few but overall they have calved unassisted. The Stabiliser bull made easy-calving calves which get up and suck quickly.
“Luckily we haven’t been affected by any nasty diseases in the calving shed, touch wood.
“Most of the cows and calves are outside with plans to put the last ones out soon, once the ground heats up a bit.
“The bulling season will be along soon and we will continue to use a Stabiliser on the heifers with the Simmental and Limousin on the cows.
“We might buy another bull before June but we are not entirely decided on breed but at the moment we are looking at another Stabiliser.
“We have 17 stores ready for sale next week with each weighing 480 to 500kg. We hope to make over £1,000/head.
Lambing is in on the home straight now at Arnage as we catch up with Fiona who is organising the sheep with husband Andrew.
“I’d say the end is in sight as we would be in the last week of lambing. We seem to be doing quite well. We would be close to 200 lambed out of a starting flock of 250 ewes.
“We have very slow grass growth with the colder weather. There are also a few cold nasty showers which is making it harder to put ewes and lambs back out to fields if they had to come in. We had planned to lamb the ewes indoors but due to space and weather we ended up having them outside.
“We are really pleased with how the ewe lambs are performing. They went to a Charollais tup and just over half have had twins and the rest single lambs.
“They are just getting on with it, brilliant little mothers. These are our ewe lambs from our Mules which were put to the composite Logie Durno bred tup.
Helpers at lambing
“We have had additional help on the farm with Callum who is getting lots of experience across the board. His mum Kirsty also comes to help out.
“Typically it is Andrew and Callum in the field with the ewes and Kirsty and me in the shed feeding and bedding. We also have Andrew’s brother in law Martin lending a hand and a neighbour Sophie who helps after school. We are having a good laugh most of the time.
“Typically we start in the field around 5.30 once it is light then head into the shed to feed, water and deal with any issues from the sheep in the pens.
“So far we have had three ewes with mastitis, three with twin lambs disease and one prolapse so over all it has been a healthy lambing so far. We have also been lucky with very little predation from foxes, badgers and crows.
“With the end in sight we are looking forward to the end of lambing now and thinking about a thank you party for our helpers once the weather warms up a bit. But we have this week to get finished first.”