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William and Andrew Cowx: Change afoot on the farm after business report findings


Lambing time is almost over, with just about 25 ewe lambs left to go. It has been just an average lambing for various reasons - the ewes were not as fit as we would have liked them after feeding them a high protein and expensive concentrate. 

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Perhaps we did not feed them enough but they looked so well until six weeks before lambing.


We managed to sell about 50 pet lambs and we still have 25 sets of triplets running but have not had to spend £3,000 on lamb milk like last year.


There have been a few trips to the vet with ewe lambs and a few caesarians, but all are doing well. To sum up, a similar number of lambs to last year but too many lamb deaths for reasons we often could do nothing about and ewe casualties at about 1 per cent which was quite good.


Andrew has been around the whole farm with a little fertiliser, so a little rain and some heat should get the grass growing. It is usually early to mid May before we get cattle turned out up here.


Getting slurry and shed muck onto the land is always a problem; it is too wet when we want to spread and now, when it is dry enough, we cannot spread as sheep are in the fields, so it just builds up in the yard.


Some time ago we recruited a farm business consultant and we have now received his report - along with his invoice.


His recommendations were very much in-line with what we thought. The performance of the sheep flock was good and well up the scale but the suckler cow performance figures were pretty poor and, although we managed to get good prices for our stock, costs were far too high.


Almost a year ago we took a full-time man on to help, which we knew at the time would take some justifying. He has decided to emigrate to Australia and leaves at the end of next month, so we have decided to reduce our cows by two thirds and increase sheep numbers a little. Andrew, with a little casual labour at busy times, can manage on his own.


We would not like to be without cattle at all, but by keeping 30 cows and followers we still have our foot in the door. We have already sold some non-pedigree cows and calves.


Early in June we will sell a batch of pedigree Limousin cows with autumn-born calves, so we will be busy getting them ready. But before then, we are expecting an important event on-farm and hope all goes well.


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