Mother Nature's warmth makes it all easier
What a difference the weather makes to the running of a farm.
After last year's late spring and poor thrive, it would be fair for me to say that normal service has been resumed on my farm and it's all thanks to the benevolence of Mother Nature.
My cattle got off to a great start with this year's early growth and I hope to finish them all on grass. In addition, my first cut of silage came in about three weeks earlier than last year during a couple of fine days around May 20, which allowed me to get the all important 24-hour wilt.
It wasn't as heavy as I would have liked but it was great to get it into the pit dry and in good condition. However, the real bonus is having after-grass available at a much earlier stage, especially as grass growth appears to have slowed down at the moment. When you are trying to finish big Friesian cattle you can never have too much grass. Their appetites really are insatiable.
While my Friesians are doing well it's the three Angus cattle that are leading the way this year. They were bought last August weighing 405kg when prices were well below their current elevated levels. I felt at the time that they looked a bit small but their growth and development since then has been very impressive.
After being fed just silage for the winter and going out to grass in late March, they now look to be not far off 600kg and should grade at least an O+ if not an R. This should see them kill-out very well, which will leave a very high target for my Friesian bullocks to achieve.
While some may feel that this raises a serious question mark in relation to my preference for dairy type stores, to me it highlights the critical importance of the buying-in price of store cattle. As any beef farmer will tell you, it's only when you have your beef cattle replaced that you know what your profit is.
For years now, we have been told that the great majority of beef farm enterprises are loss making. However, these official reports consistently ignore the fact that there are many beef finishers up and down the country surviving and making a living from fattening cattle, principally off grass.