James Powell: 'The dry spell is lovely, but we need a bit of rain'


James farms 180ha (450 acres) of uplands in Llanbadarn Fynydd, Powys. Married to Rachel with three sons, James runs 1,000 ewes, mostly Aberfield crosses, plus a 50-head suckler herd. An HCC scholar in 2014, he is involved with NFU Cymru’s Next Generation initiative and passionate about rural affairs.


I would not want to be typecast as a farmer complaining about the weather, especially with these lovely, long, warm and dry days. But I am sure it is the same with every farm in the country, that we could, alas, do with a little rain.


The dry spell has suited our damper fields but, mostly, the colder nights and winds, along with the hungry mouths, have limited a lot of new grass growth. Soil temperature has been over 11degC on our lower areas, but the land is cracked due to lack of moisture.


The farmyard manure we spread five weeks ago remains on the surface, although harrowed, and will have to be rectified before we take a silage cut off it. When the rain does come, I am sure we will see a burst of growth and the current low covers should also make way for the clovers in the swards to flourish.


It is, after all, May, and the season needs to catch up and only a couple of our fields have been turned off for silage. The sucklers remain inside and are utilising the remaining forage, apart from a few early calved cows which are having silage outside.


The lambs, however, have never handled better as I white drenched them this week. Dry backs are obviously a huge boost to early growth and I can see why the southern hemisphere lambs grow so well in their first months. We have started to dock lambs and I have called upon the assistance of a local tailing crew with the proper kit to speed things up, as those early March lambs are now racing towards a respectable finishing weight are a lot of work to handle on my own.


Our first lambs have been sold in the form of couples with hoggs at Welshpool market. The trade was very strong, which is encouraging that people have faith in the sector. Outside the farmgate, it seems that neighbouring France has elected a pro-European Government just as we go to the polls to find out who will take us out of Europe. It is going to be another interesting year.

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