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William and Andrew Cowx: Farm labour difficult to justify, but consultant helps with business improvements

Our slurry tower is almost overflowing and like many more in the county the only slurry which has been spread this winter has been blown over the hedges.

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Andrew arranged for a contractor with an umbilical to come, but it is too wet to travel even with just a tractor. With lambing starting in just over three weeks we do not want the fields covered with slurry for the ewes and lambs when they go out. All the ewes are inside as it got too wet to feed them outside – big ewes soon paddle the ground up and feeding them sheep cobs on the ground was impossible. The snacker which we bought last year has not been used this year because of ground conditions.


The ewes look very happy inside and are easy to feed, but difficult to keep clean. We rescanned the ewe lambs which we thought were not in-lamb and half of them proved to be carrying lambs – we were just rather early with the first scanning.


Our man had an accident at the end of January and has not been back at work since and is not likely to be back at work before lambing. Thankfully Adrian, the youngest of the family is coming in the mornings to scrape out and bed up before going on to do his own work. It is difficult to get farm labour and so hard to justify the £20,000 or so wage bill when the profitability of these types of farms is so poor. The consultant we asked to look into our farm business is due to report this week where we are going wrong and has already highlighted a few of the things we should look at, so watch this space.

Good silage

Cattle are doing quite well – they have had some good silage to eat, I only hope it is going to last to spring. Hay is almost finished and with all ewes inside the back wall of the silage gets ever nearer. There are a few year-old calves to go to market before lambing and before the next batch of cows calve to make room as they are all in cubicles at present.


We had a couple of days in Edinburgh last week, it was good to get away from it all and relax – it may be the last time we are able to visit Scotland without having a passport. The debate about independence is hotting up and there are so many unanswered questions and doubts. I am certain we will all be stronger remaining as one country and talking with one voice – united we stand divided we fall.

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