I’m doing a lot of head scratching at the minute. I’ve a lot of cows coming fit for sale and I don’t know whether to show them live in the ring or to kill them.

The general consensus with a lot of people is that fat cows will make more in the ring, but it can be fairly up and down depending on the cow.

With real good, heavy continental cows, that might be true; but plainer cows might make more in the factory. I weighed the cows a few weeks back to give me something to work off, but the more times I count a potential price, the more confused I get.

No matter what way I decide to sell them, for once, it seems like a good time to have cattle to sell, with trade and demand staying strong. Of course, the flip side of that is that it’s not a good time to have to go back to the market to buy.

‘Good luck replacing them’

I killed a few heifers last week and I was very happy with how they did; when I showed a friend the kill sheet, he took the wind out of my sails a bit when he said “good luck replacing them”.

Although all cattle are definitely a good trade at the minute, the high ring prices that are being talked about are obviously the top of the spectrum, and as we all know, not all cows are going to be top of the spectrum. A recent online viewing of one of the local marts confirmed this.

My cows are well-fed and well-fleshed, so I’m leaning towards killing them, but every time I think I have my mind made up, something arises to cast a little doubt.


For the first time since we started making silage on this farm, which I believe may have been in 1973, long before I was ever thought of, we are into January and the silage pit is yet to be opened.

A good number of bales from my red clover swards, as well as bales from strong paddocks and a few left from previous years – coupled with slightly fewer cattle, everything being fed to finish and getting high levels of concentrates – has meant that I’m using less silage and I’m still feeding bales.

I still have quite a few bales left yet, so I’m hopeful that if I get my cows away, I might actually get away without opening my pit at all this year.

Fingers crossed for an early spring, but I would imagine that could be a little too much to hope for.

For the past 20 years at least, my farm has been heavily stocked. That, coupled with the strong possibility of a long winter this far north, means that I always try to cut more silage than I think I should need, just to have a reserve.

Maybe this year, I’ll be able to cut a little less.

There’s nothing like tempting fate – as soon as I say something like that, I’m sure to end up having to use the full pit and will have cattle in the shed until June.