Farmer Focus Livestock: Good lamb crop for Bill Metcalf

With near-to-perfect lambing conditions from a weather point of view, just as we seemed to get years ago, it has been possible to appreciate the contrasts in fate of different farms in the area. From some on the positive side with large crops of lambs, to those with problems of large numbers of dead lambs from apparent infection brought by birds, and to others with significant numbers of geld ewes.

One extra interest for ourselves this year has been the produce of an older Swaledale ram, one of the better tups in his day, which has been loaned to us, having produced many good female sheep. If we are lucky enough to produce a ram for our own use it would be a real bonus, but the quality put into our Swaledale flock will, hopefully, pass on in years to come too.

The Long Green and Newton Lodge sheep which my daughter purchased last year caused a few problems – as has often been the case in first-year moved-on sheep. Now they have really come into their own, with almost a Swale gimmer for each one put to the ram.

It is the first year since moving to High Shipley that we have not bred Swaledales there, having never been able to produce sufficient replacements till now, and subsequently better Mule lambs from the best ewes, which have previously been “off limits” to mere Blue Faced Leicester rams.

Recently we had two fields spread with a vegetable waste by-product by neighbour Adam Metcalfe (a finalist in the FW awards for the Young Farmer category last year). Following a significant response from his adjoining fields, we await the results, having used minimal artificial fertiliser over recent years.