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 Every field is squelching water and the livestock all look as though they could do with some sunshine on their backs.  The early lambers came in for scanning in December looking bedraggled and thin, so it was decided to house them early.  They are looking much better now that their fleeces have dried out properly. Scanning figures for these ewes were well below average - we think that this is partly due to the weather conditions, however we have taken some blood tests from a sample of this group -the vet has suggested that they may have picked up a nasty bug from cats crossing the pastures these ewes were grazing down near Langley Park. It gets demoralising when you try really hard to run an efficient farm and then something that you have no control over like the weather or a cat or even a flea can cause so much damage.
The main flock have now been housed and will hopefully give us some good news when they are scanned next week.  Some of our breeding ewes need looking after when the winter months set in - we keep our ewes until they are 10 or 11 years old if they are fit, whereas many farmers cull at 6 years regardless.  The silage has been analysed and as predicted is of comparatively poor quality this year.  We've started feeding organic "nuts" to the ewes and are looking at various options to supplement their diet and keep these sheep in good condition through their pregnancy.  Liquid molasses looks a likely option. We're thinking about winter shearing some of the fitter ewes -  in theory this relieves the workload in the summer a little, as the ewes that have been shorn will only need checking once a day and won't need bringing in for shearing in June when we're busy enough chasing silage. 
The new shed is nearly finished - just the outside groundworks to finish off and some lighting - it's already full of sheep.  This month's main expense will be a new mobile bale feeder for the cattle, as one is beyond any further patching and some ring feeders for the extra sheep we are keeping.
We still have fat lambs to sell and another load of cull ewes/tups is heading for Darlington Mart this week.   Meanwhile the cows are enjoying the milder weather, it won't be long until calving in March now.  The computer records are being organised so that we can sort the cows into calving batches according to due date, as we'll be bringing most cows inside before calving. 
We've also had a spot check for the Higher Level Stewardship scheme - the inspector walked round every field, measured every grass margin and counted every hedge plant, no problems found. 
13 January, 2013 at 16:10

Tags: broom house farm news

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