Lifting your average is the best way to survive producing beef from sucklers
What I like to do every January is take a walk around the yard with a calculator and notepad, checking on our supplies and bedding. On the assumption that we will have a normal spring, we would be relatively happy that we will be okay on both fronts.
As is usually the case, we have plenty of farmyard manure heaped in the yard, ready for the off as soon as the calendar and the weather allows. The farmyard manure will all be spread on the tillage ground.
We will also try and spread some slurry over the next few weeks. The slurry we spread last year in January worked particularly well, I felt. So we will try and do the same again this year, weather permitting.
All the suckler cows, stock bulls and breeding heifers have been dosed for fluke and were treated for internal and external parasites.
This winter we didn't treat any of the young stock for fluke, since none of them will be going out to grass and none of the under-16-month-old bulls that have been slaughtered so far showed any signs of fluke.
The bull has been removed from the maiden heifers and they are due to be scanned in the coming weeks. We only leave the bull with the heifers for approximately eight weeks. I always feel if a well-grown healthy heifer doesn't go in-calf in an eight-week window, the chances are that she is a poor breeder and it's better to find that out sooner rather than later.
We will be removing the stock bulls from the main herd this coming week and hopefully most of them are in calf. It's always an apprehensive time until they are actually scanned. At the risk of repeating myself, unless we get a higher percentage of cows in-calf, we have already lost ground that can't be made up.
We have finished selling our under-16-month-bulls and considering the turmoil in the bull beef market at the moment, we are not sorry we made the decision to go this route, though it has been a learning curve and hasn't been without its challenges.