Beef: The question on everyone's lips is price
Before the recent improvement in growth, the reluctance of grass to grow in any meaningful manner certainly posed major challenges for anyone involved in cattle farming.
The only saving factor was that cattle appeared to remain content on fields which had become very bare during the fine spell of weather in the latter half of April.
Because of the shortage of grass, it was May before the last of my cattle left the shed. Unfortunately, the delay in letting out cattle and the restricted supply of grass for cattle already out means that I have missed out on what is probably the most important part of the grazing season. Previous experience has taught me that it is very difficult to make up this loss of condition and weight gain later in the year.
The benefits of spring grass cannot be underestimated; I recently had the privilege of witnessing a very interesting example of how well cattle thrive on good spring grass. Two cattle bought by a friend increased in weight by 65kg from the time they were bought in mid February to being resold in mid April. They had spent the intervening period on a field of fresh young grass with just a small daily supplement of hay.
Even though the increase in weight was quite spectacular, unfortunately it did not result in any appreciable monetary gain because of the dampening effect poor growth had on the cattle trade. Another good example of the vagaries of the cattle business!
I continue to have difficulties with slats breaking and I had to replace another one recently; luckily I again escaped without any animals being injured. It does, however, reinforce the necessity for all my slats to be replaced.
I normally leave spreading the slurry remaining in the tanks after late winter until the following autumn, but as I need to have the tanks fully empty when putting in the new slats, I hope to empty the tanks after my first-cut of silage and get the replacement work done then.
Another concern which is weighing on everyone's mind at the moment is what will beef be making when it comes to sell our cattle?