What a difference some good weather makes. Here at Yscoedreddfyn we are preparing for lambing and the ewes are looking well, both on the hill and on the ground where they are feeding on the swedes.
Bobby sold our barrens in Hereford market last week, with trade quite strong at between £40-£50 for our hill ewes. Hoggets there were up to £2.10/kg and he thinks this bodes well for trade over the next few months.
This is good news – we will be heeding the advice of auctioneer Richard Hyde who says ‘business done early is seldom regretted’ and selling couples in May and as many lambs as we can before the Royal Welsh to ease our cash flow situation.
The big progress at Yscoedreddfyn this month has been the purchase of 15 bucket-reared Welsh Black cross heifers. This brings our total now to 20 heifers and the plan is to breed them pure for quality Welsh Black beef. If we sell their offspring as stores at 12-15 months it will probably be 2017 and three winters before we get any income back from this enterprise. There can be no doubt cattle are a long-term investment.
Given this, and the lack of business case as evidenced in the Farm Business Survey data, further compounded by the fact I am not known for my patience, you may wonder if this is a sensible move?
There are, of course, additional benefits to keeping cattle, including mixed grazing, the value of farmyard manure and so on. This blind dedication is also, however, just another illustration of farmers approaching farming as a lifetime commitment. If long-term forecasts are considered taking into account a range of global factors such as climate change, population growth and the so-called ‘nutrition transition’ then I am convinced this country will become a favoured area of food production in the future. I believe we must be ready to capitalise on the opportunities.
Away from the Davies farming revolution, our daughter Ceri is settled and enjoying her dairy farming experience in Carmarthenshire, where calving will start at the end of the month. While communicating her love of independent living to the world via Facebook, Twitter and whatever else they do these days, she is keeping me very busy running a ‘meals on wheels’ and grocery delivery service.