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Tony Shepherd and John Henderson: Inspections galore, a missing sheep tag and the share farming gospel


Having breathed a sigh of relief when the Farm Assured British Beef and Lamb inspection was over last month, writes Tony, this month we were one of the 3 per cent of farms to have a cross compliance inspection of cattle, which had to be done within 48 hours of the initial phone call.

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With our local Rural Payments Agency office at Northallerton now closed, the inspector had a round trip involving five hours of driving plus the three-and-a-half hours of record inspections, making it a long day for him.


The irony of the visit for us is the inspector was working from information we supplied to the British Cattle Movement Service.


Fortunately, everything was in order apart from one missing eartag which was ordered the same day.


We sold a handful of sheep and lambs at one of the local auctions (a result of one of the tups being quicker to action than expected) to a good trade, although one of the eartags did not get read.


As the auction is not a critical read point and provides the list of eartags as a service, the onus falls back onto us to find the unread tag.


Several phone calls were made to the new movement Animal Reporting and Movement Service, and eventually to Defra to clarify the situation should we have a cross compliance inspection of our sheep records.


The outcome was to include the un-read tag in our movement records and inform the purchaser of the sheep to do the same to avoid any potential penalties. The silver lining was because there were only a few sheep involved, working out which was the missing tag was possible.


Store cattle have been weighed again to check progress and have all gained weight and, although variable, the average is fine. We have changed the ration and removed the urea, which was being used as a cheap source of protein, and replaced it with wheat distillers pellets, which they are far happier with.


It was interesting to read about a share farming agreement recently between new National Sheep Association chairman Samuel Wharry and James Davison. Although it is different to ours, it shares the same values and obviously works for them.


John has had several speaking engagements spreading the share farming gospel and he will tell you more about them next month when I am on full-time lambing duty.


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