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My farming week: Luke Anthony, West Sussex

Luke Anthony and his wife Joanne manage 230 autumn calving cows across 46 hectares (115 acres) on a contract basis, while farming a further 80ha (200 acres) for the Brambleberry pedigree Beef Shorthorn herd.

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As we move towards spring, I turn my attention to getting the bulls and stopping artificial insemination (AI) on the dairy herd.

 

This will give us a chance to review our breeding season which, for reasons unknown, could have been improved.

 

As a tight calving block is crucial to our system, it is vital to have a cut-off date. Sadly the bulls can still be seen making friends.

However, with beef prices buoyant and the milk price low, this may be no bad thing.

Sheep

This week, my eldest daughter turned five and such a momentous occasion had to be marked. With this in mind, she has been gifted with two pedigree Suffolk ewe lambs.

 

I am yet to decide if they are a present or a punishment but they will go on to be foundation females for her very own Brambleberry Suffolk flock.

Market

To make room for these new arrivals, I have been sorting fatstock to catch the high prices seen at market.

 

With the Oxford Down sheep having now been indoors for more than a month in preparation for lambing, it would be fair to say the novelty has worn off for both farmer and stock.

 

Farming on brickyard clay means we have been knee-deep in silage and straw since October with the dairy and suckler herds, so it is not uncommon for me to be found gazing over the gate longingly at the grass hoping for an early turnout with a cow or sheep at my side.

 

Along with the dairy herd, our Beef Shorthorn sucklers are predominately autumn calving as we struggle to grow grass from July to late August.

 

It means not a lot is happening with them apart from planning the weaning which, I must add, has been hastily brought forward thanks to one rather amorous bull calf and a young cow.

Genetics

The evaluation of last year’s chosen sires through our performance recording program is vital to us as I am a keen user of AI on the sucklers to speed up genetic progression.

 

With many bulls from overseas having few figures or none at all, recording progeny data is the only way to improve this.

 

With a new relief milker in place, the rest of the week has been spent in anticipation of the Stirling Beef Shorthorn bull sales.

 

The sale and stock have changed in recent times, which is thanks to the Morrisons premium on Shorthorn-sired stock.

 

This is encouraging commercial men to buy into the ultimate functional suckler breed to gain milky, fertile daughters and a premium on steers.

 

And so I end the week making the 450 mile journey to Scotland to ogle pedigree stock.


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