I won't house flock until I need to after hard lessons from last year
What a difference a year makes. This time last year my cattle had already been in the sheds for two months and as soon as I separated the ewes and rams, the flock was housed. It was a disaster when I look back at it, but at least it's behind me and the hard lessons have been learned. This year, there will be no rush to house the ewes; in fact it is quite likely that I won't have to house my sheep until just before lambing. This is the way things should be.
Housing sheep for too long is expensive and involves too much extra labour, which makes it a difficult task when you are managing on your own with the odd bit of casual help.
Lambs are continuing to come fit in greater numbers and I have more than 80pc of my lambs drafted. In fact the big problem now is they are over-fat and, in a group scenario, I am being penalised heavily.
More than a quarter of my last batch of lambs that went to the factory were overweight. I had tried to get them killed the week before but, being the accommodating farmer I am, I kindly held my lambs for a week longer, only to be heavily cut on over-fat lambs.
I should have sold these lambs at a flat price, so I'll know better next time. The path to hell is paved with good intentions.
I decided to keep about 50 ewe lambs for breeding. These were lambs that had done extremely well off grass and weighed in at over 50kg. I decided that, rather than give them away to the factory, I would take a chance on them. It wasn't in my plan for the year, but the unprecedented good weather and grass growth softened my stance.
I have some fencing to do under the Targeted Agricultural Modernisation Scheme (TAMS). I always try to keep it up to date on the farm and I find that by doing a little bit each year you can keep on top of it.