IN YOUR FIELD
John Davies: Frustrating on-farm, but progress off
Our In Your Field series, which charts the ups and downs of seven farmers around the country, this week finds out what’s been happening on-farm for John Davies in Powys.
SEPTEMBER seems to have been mostly showers, making finishing the harvest a struggle – corn and silage. At home, we’ve done some spring barley which we had to crimp.
We managed to put one field back to grass, but had to change plan in another. We’ve sown winter barley and winter oats in yet another. It has been frustrating, but not as bad as in some areas of New Zealand where they are busy lambing. Friends tell me rain and snow have knocked their lamb crop by 20 per cent in many areas. Will this impact on our market in a few months time?
We’ve shorn all the ewe lambs and given them their heptovac and footvax treatment.
Our steers averaged 178p/kg and heifers 172/kg in cattle trade at Brecon – topping out at £930. We’d sold some cattle and lambs the week before to St Merryn’s. The lambs were pleasing at an average of nearly £76 after stoppages, but the cattle were disappointing. I thought they’d grade better, but I guess there’ll be fewer around next year though with the uplift in cereals prices.
Off-farm it’s been busy: The first fundraising event for Breconshire’s RWAS host county year in 2012 went well. Also, I was one of the speakers at the WI’s Welsh conference in support of their country of origin labelling campaign.
Thankfully, it went fine and there were lots of good questions. They are doing an excellent lobbying job. Let’s hope together (NFU and WI) we make progress.
The rugby season has restarted with our under-10s winning a couple of early tournaments.
The last off-farm event was the YFC/schools Epynt day. We had five local schools to the Epynt visitor centre, where we had people who had moved from the Epynt farming community 70 years ago recollecting what life was like – with butter-making, bread-making, vintage machinery and hand shearing demonstrations. It was a packed day with lots of questions and a day they won’t forget for a while.
It looks like we’re going to have to house more cattle. Although there’s plenty of grass, any new leys are just getting churned up, so almost as soon as we finish making silage, we’re feeding again.
- John Davies farms between Brecon and Builth Wells, running a 240ha (600 acre) mixed unit. Progeny from the farm’s 120 suckler cows are finished on-farm, as are lambs from the ewe flock. About 32ha (80 acres) of cereals are grown, and John also does some contracting work, mainly silage.