New farming year, same old rain: is it ever going to stop?
The gradual lengthening of the evenings and the bright January sunshine highlights the arrival of a new farming year. It also reminds us that Mother Nature, through her control of the seasons, pretty much dictates what will happen on our farms.
In spite of some recent deluges, we can only hope that she will be a much more benign mistress this year and assist us with more favourable weather in which to carry out our farming chores.
I was fortunate to be able to keep my cattle out a bit longer than normal this back-end, with the last batch going in on December 19.
My records also tell me that my average purchase weight this year was about 10kg heavier than usual, which should be a considerable help next autumn.
The real reason behind my keeping the cattle out longer was concerns about silage supply.
While I took just one cut last year, yields were good and it bulked up well in the pit. It may have been a bit of a risk not taking a second cut, but it left more land available for grazing later in the summer. This turned out to be a real bonus considering the bad weather.
As we approach the end of January, it would appear that, given a normal spring, I should be ok for silage, but who knows what will happen? Whatever does happen, we will just have to deal with it.
Having not been at a mart since November, I called into my local mart last week to see what was happening to the trade. As I walked into the ring a bunch of tall 'housed' Friesian stores were being sold. I was quite surprised that they made very little more than I paid for the same type of cattle last November. Considering recent reports of the opening of the shipping trade, I wondered whether this was a confidence or money issue. On reflection, the most likely reason for the low prices is the shortage of winter fodder.