Starting out with a small number of cattle has been a wonderful experience. Each year as more calves were born, I felt a sense of security in the food base we were creating for ourselves and our customers.
In only a few short years their numbers have grown to a point where pasture management has indicated we are holding more cattle than the land can carry. This year we bought hay - something that wasn’t necessary up until now. Sure I brought one or two bales in here and there each season, however this year it was absolutely needed for their upkeep. Spring is now here, the new growth is coming through and condition is returning to the herd.
While we could bring in lots of off-farm feed to maintain and or grow our numbers even further, our focus is on regenerative agriculture and this would see the land catering for as much (ideally all) of the feed required by our animals. This winter’s experience has brought us to a simple conclusion - we need to reduce our numbers.
We are yet to decide exactly how we will do this, although selling our original cows and keeping the replacement heifers for breeding and a change of bull will be the most likely first step.
It is quality over quantity. Quality of the land and a quality of life for the animals and those who manage it.