My farm is probably like a lot of other beef farms in that it seems to operate a bit like a conveyor belt.

It starts with putting cows in-calf and then calving them and rearing the calves through to finish or to be sold as in-calf heifers. I have also started taking calves from our calf house and rearing them through to beef, so I’m adding stuff on to my conveyor belt part way along as well.

The whole secret with this system is that it needs to keep moving. If something gets jammed on the conveyor belt then you are in trouble as things start to back up and might even fall off the line.


I’m very tightly stocked and I need to keep the belt fully operational. I have only limited housing and I need to be selling finished cattle on time so that I can bring in more in their place. I cannot afford underperforming stock, because this soon blocks up the system.

It’s the same in late autumn and early spring. I need to be able to keep light stock out late into the year until I have cattle sold to free up housing. Then in the spring I need to get young stock out to free up housing for my cows calving. It’s a constant pressure and I am pushing the thing that tight I can’t afford for any hold up or things to go wrong.

Some will ask why the need to push things so much? Well, if you look at manufacturing companies, the ones that are getting on the best are the ones that are working flat out and making efficient use of their assets.


The weather here in February was superb and it hardly rained at all. It was reasonably mild and the grass grew more like what you would expect for April. I was really tempted to put some cattle out to grass.

Everyone kept going on about a fair February cursing every other month or if it wasn’t that, they would say it’s too good too early.

So I kept holding off until I eventually gave in and let some cattle out at the end of the month. They were just out grazing during the day and in at night for some silage and meal.

My intention was to do this for a few weeks and then, if the weather was suitable, let them stay out full-time. This would free up space for my spring-calving cows.

As we all know, the weather has gone seriously downhill in March and I am struggling big time. I have been able to keep letting these cattle out grazing (on most days) but they are still coming in at night so I have not freed up any housing space.

My spring cows have been calving since the start of March and I’m running out of room. At this stage I was hoping to have some cows and calves out but that’s not going to happen anytime soon. I have some grass about but ground conditions are really bad.

To make matters worse my son has started to lamb and again, the weather is terrible for getting ewes and lambs out. His conveyor belt is also blocking up and he is looking to use some of the cattle accommodation.

At the minute we are working overtime just to try and make sure that everything doesn’t fall apart. We could do with some help from the weather, and very soon.

For years I have been pushing things to their maximum and I have got away reasonably well but I would have to say we are running very close to the edge this time.

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