The start of February has definitely lived up to the old saying “February fill dyke be it black or white”.


Well thankfully it was black, but the gale-force winds have been most unwelcome and our ewes look fairly weather-beaten.

The Swaledale ewes in-lamb to the Bluefaced Leicester have been split into their lambing groups and treated for lice, after being scanned at 186%, which was 10% down on last year. Unfortunately, this was not the trend for the number of triplets, which was similarly high. My experience is that triplets in horned ewes are generally no good for either party.

I am hoping for a visit from the foot-trimming man soon, with several cows needing attention, as his last appointment got cancelled due to the snow. The other cow-related problem is their tags falling out. They seem to go brittle in cold weather and then just snap. So an order for replacements has been placed but no doubt more cows will have lost tags by the time they arrive.

The best thing to happen recently was a load of straw landing on my doorstep from a kind neighbour. It’s most appreciated as it’s difficult purchasing extra straw without incurring high haulage costs.

Two days ago an unwanted phone call has left me somewhat disillusioned. It appears that 54 Swaledale gimmer hoggs out of batch of 80, away for wintering, have escaped a pasture and literally just vanished. We spent two afternoons relentlessly searching the surrounding arable area which was made more difficult by the lack of stock-proof boundaries. Although there are no obvious signs of them been stolen, I am beginning to fear the worst. I just hope for more positive news in the near future.

Farmer Focus Livestock: John Bainbridge