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My Farming Week: James Evans, Shropshire

James farms in partnership with his brother Rob and father John at Lydbury North, south west Shopshire, farming just over 800 hectares (2,000 acres) with arable and 300 Stabiliser suckler cows and 1,000 Lleyn ewes.

Busy: Is it me, or does March always seem to creep up on you? One minute it is Christmas and the next thing it is time to start finding lambing pens and clearing out sheds.

 

With lambing and calving starting on the April 1, we have got a fair bit of work to get though.

 

Vaccinating: This week we have been giving ewes their annual pasteurella pneumonia booster, accompanied by a worm and fluke drench, all of which had been made easier with the use of a local contractor who tails them out through his conveyor.

 

Among other jobs on the to-do list will be to bolus cows, boost their bovine viral diarrhoea and leptospirosis vaccines, and treat with topical iodine.

 

Experiment: The iodine use is a new thing, but a recent visit by an Irish vet showed me some pretty good evidence it improved colostrum and increased the amount of available antibodies to the newborn calf.

 

I thought I would give it a go as it is not too expensive and I have heard of other farmers having had good results.

 

Laying: Just to make life interesting we have started work on our 32,000-bird laying unit. All the eggs produced will go to make flu vaccines. This is an exciting new venture which will take our business in a new direction.

 

New venture: Volatility is something all mixed beef, sheep and arable farms have suffered from more than ever lately.

 

With this new venture we should protect ourselves from an unstable market. As all the birds, feed, electricity and water are paid for, we simply supply the buildings and labour and are paid on a square footage.

 

If only we could get the same level of cooperation in the other sectors of our business, we would all be in a far better place.

 

Brexit: The decision to stay in or get out of Europe is at the forefront of everyone’s agenda at the moment.

 

I for one feel we need to stay in. Why take the risk and gamble? Surely we are better trading as a United Europe?

 

I have heard many compelling arguments for and against, but looking at it from a farmer’s point of view, I think Europe values its farmers far more than any British Government will ever do.

 

Some argue we can design our own systems to suit British farmers if we leave. From memory, I think it was Defra which designed the new Basic Payment Scheme and the Countryside Stewardship Schemes, so we may have a lot to look forward to.

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