Pleased, but educated as well!

So, the first disappointment of a lifelong interest in and passion for farming has manifested itself  – wheelchair into cattle mart doesn’t go! It was a massive disappointment that what would’ve been a first ever sojourn to such a place had to be aborted, but, talking to some of those that were in attendance was eye opening to another angle on agricultural life. However, clinging to the old maxim that business and pleasure shouldn’t be mixed, maybe everything does happen for a reason. If these wheels had been in attendance when matters of particular interest were being dealt with, full value may not have been extracted from events.

Cattle of 550kg and over seem to be the best sellers in marts at present.
On a serious note, though, it was disappointing to learn that a trip thence wouldn’t have been possible even if it was desired. After all, marts must surely be considered public buildings and thus be required by law to be wheelchair accessible. Factor in that not only are they public places, but also places of business, and the lack of accommodation is even disappointing, to put it mildly.
It is well known that the concept of a disabled farmer baffles many. It shouldn’t, if for no other reason than the realisation that many farmers unfortunately have their lives altered irreversibly by accidents and injuries. In this day and age, it shouldn’t have to mean the end of their time as farmers. Personal experience has shown that a few very simple changes can make a monumental difference – in any aspect of life – and there’s no reason farming should be any different. To that end, mart managers could do a lot worse than follow the lead of Tattersalls in Faryhouse, where the horse sales are held.
Anyway, one would have to be pleased with the reports of what transpired – especially having only had the interest seriously re-ignited a short time ago – but, by the end of the day, a lot more educated as well. Not just in terms of access either. Very quickly it became apparent that the back end of the year wasn’t the best time to be bringing lighter cattle to the mart.
Mention of weights is interesting. What one man may consider to be decent sized cattle may end up looking small compared to some of what’s on offer. In that context, some of the lots on show did particularly well, but, the outcomes would certainly shape thinking for the future.
Going forward, mind you, it became clear that a certain type of production system is needed if a farmer is to extract best profits from his cattle. It would seem that beasts would need to be 550kg minimum to make best prices.
This is, of course, stating the obvious, but, cattle would most likely need to be bought in late spring. An ideal plan would be to go shopping in late March or early April and have the for sale sign ready for early October. Thus, they would have several extra months grazing and/or feeding. Thus increasing weight and – as a consequence – value.
Another option might be to buy in younger stock. Now, that might seem like a contradiction given the contrast in weights – and returns – that were evident in the mart. There’s also a theory that younger cattle are easier to work with. Maybe not in terms of going for suck calves, but perhaps weaned calves or stronger weanlings.
It’s probable that younger stock have more scope for improvement in a manner that is likely to make more economic sense. Over a winter, they’d most likely eat less than bigger cattle and, given a good spring and summers grazing – facilitated by good grass management – may end up delivering more profitability.
For all that, fluidity in planning has to be the cornerstone of farming. There could be merit in buying in heavier cattle, though a readjustment of farm system might be needed in order to get them to the required weights, either for selling as forward stores or for finishing.
A wise man once told me that there’s no room for sentiment in betting. The same dictum fits nicely with business too, but, if there was room for a smidgeon of sentimentality, this corner would love to see a few more Herefords on the go.
For a few reasons, the first one economic. Put it this way – results dictate policy. Besides that, owing to a small degree of sentiment. Many moons ago, a red Hereford was encountered that became something of a pet. Yours truly was even once photographed on his back! As it happens though, they seem to be a very scarce commodity – then again the best things generally are!
In conclusion, for now, not having concrete plans is very obviously a crucial element within farming – even in terms of going on a road trip! It’s been a great year for farming and agri business and there should be plenty of cause for optimism going forward.

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