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Peter Chapman: Calving commences with ease, but Scottish farming difficulties brought home

Insights

Calving started on February 11 which was a few days earlier than expected, but it has been non-stop since.

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As I write, we have had 35 cows calved with 38 calves. The twins came early on and all three calved themselves, with all calves living.

 

Two of the cows decided not to take one of their twins but after some gentle persuasion all the family units are complete. We have only had to pull two calves, both from heifers, with one coming backwards and the other a big heifer calf.

 

We have been very pleased how easily the cows have calved so far and how quickly the calves are on their feet and sucking. We were a bit worried about the cows being in too good condition after the good summer, but they have been on nothing but ammonia wheat straw since they came inside and cow condition has been perfect.

 

There is also no doubt using only Aberdeen-Angus bulls has helped greatly, with easy calving and lively calves making the job much simpler. You may lose a bit of weight for age and confirmation with the end product, but overall I am all in favour of an easier care system, especially as I am being left to do a lot more of the work now dad has moved house.

 

Our aim is to have 60 per cent of the cows calved in the first three weeks so we only need another three to calve in the next three days to hit this target.

Difficulties

Farming difficulties in the north east of Scotland came to light again recently when 2 Sisters Food Group announced it was cutting throughput at its Coupar Angus chicken processing plant. The upshot has been that it looks like any broiler units north of Aberdeen will not be required to produce chicken for this factory.

 

This leaves 15 private contract growers without a market for their birds as they are deemed too far away and the transport too expensive. These are some of the most modern and efficient sites in the UK, costing each farmer hundreds of thousands of pounds to build, but that is of no concern to the management making the decision.

 

Some of the businesses’ are diverse so will cope, but some have no other income so the future looks bleak. It clearly brings home the problems of farming well away from the main market areas.

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