Are you well fed?

A Jersey cow at Airfield Estate. Pic by Paul Sherwood
A Jersey cow at Airfield Estate. Pic by Paul Sherwood

Every fortnight people from a farming background, or who have a heart for the countryside, offer a personal reflection on faith and rural life. They hope that you will be encouraged by it.

The profitability of the intensive livestock sector is largely determined by feeding. Whether it is pigs, poultry or cattle the content, the consistency and the cost of feeding are of critical importance.

I had some experience of this when I fed Friesian/Holstein bull calves to produce Rose Veal. After having obtained the weaned eight to 10-week-old batch of calves it was down to me to make sure that they were properly fed. The feed had to have the right contents in terms of protein, energy and fibre for the bull depending on what stage of life it was at.

In the intensive sector the consistency of the ration is very important. If you talk to a dairy farmer who keeps cows indoors all year round, they’ll tell you that they get nervous when the cows change from one cut of silage to the next because it can cause upsets and milk production may drop. It was the same with the Friesian/Holstein bulls, there had to be clean meal, straw and water.

Then of course there was the all important element of feed cost. For pig and poultry farmers even small changes in the cost per kilogram of feed can have very significant effects on the bottom line.

For the physical health of our own bodies, feeding is important too. When it comes to matters of faith we need to feed on God’s Word, the Bible. The shepherd David, in Psalm 119:103 said, “How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth!” We see that the Bible contains words that are palatable and easy to digest.

They are nutritious words and will help us to grow to understand who God truly is and who we truly are. So often we see ourselves quite different from who we truly are. We can see ourselves as good decent hardworking people until we see the “grading sheet” of Romans 3:23, which says, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”

God is saying to us that if we would feed on His Word we can learn about how Jesus Christ, the only Son of God, came to this world and died on a cross for the forgiveness of our sins. God wants you to respond by trusting Jesus with the whole of your life and to live for Him.

When you have come to that point of trusting Jesus, then the journey of faith requires you to feed on the Bible. It has the right content to help you live through the different stages of life, it is consistent from start to finish. The Bible also tells us that salvation could only have been paid for by Jesus Christ.

There were months when it would have been wonderful if someone had stepped in and paid my meal bill. Jesus Christ did something more wonderful, He paid for our salvation.

He provides food for the cattle and for the young ravens when they call (Psalm 147:9). May you take this opportunity to call on Jesus Christ who feeds the cattle, cares for the birds and has provided us with eternal salvation when we believe.

Trevor Boyd is the minister of First Rathfriland Presbyterian Church in the rolling County Down countryside. Married to Barbara, the father of three is an ex-sheep breeder and previously sold animal health products across Northern Ireland.

If you would like to talk to someone about any of the issues raised in this article, please email Rev. Kenny Hanna at or call him on 028 9753 1234.