Beef: Getting 'stuck in' at the mart is good for the ego but hard on the pocket
Once again nature has demonstrated the huge difference between theory and practice as far as farming is concerned. When conditions are not right, as was the case up until last week most of what the "experts" say goes straight out the window. The secret I guess is to make the best of whatever conditions nature sends our way.
Luckily for me the current fine spell arrived just in time. With my supply of silage running low, getting two pens of cattle out in mid March was a great bonus - however it will be some time before I forget the miserable few months which we have just experienced.
I suppose what I found most frustrating was waiting week after week for the ground to dry. I rely on slurry a great deal as fertiliser for silage, but just when the ground appeared to be drying out, the rain would return again.
Eventually I did succeed in getting my tanks half empty but it was quite a battle. Unfortunately when the fine weather eventually arrived it was too late to spread lime on the grazing fields.
While I was feeding my cattle on some of those miserably wet mornings I couldn't but feel very glad for the major advances in farm mechanisation.
Sitting in the air-conditioned cab of my 10-year-old tractor (1- years means "new" as far as cattle farmers are concerned) feeding the cattle in the slatted shed, I thought of the hardship endured by farmers down through the years.
Feeding bales of hay to cattle sheltering behind ditches and hedges as the sleet and rain poured down wasn't very pleasant. Before that it was a case of having to tackle-up a horse and dray car and load it with loose hay which doesn't sound that appealing either.
In spite of all these advances we still have plenty to worry about. Concern continues to grow amongst beef finishers that this year could turn out to be a disaster. Interestingly in-spite of the disappointing prices being paid for beef, the trade for replacement cattle remains very firm.