Farmer Focus Livestock: Rations help boost lambing for Bryan Griffiths

In total, 170 Suffolk x ewes lambed uneventfully during the first week of March and have been moved to 80 acres of ground three miles away.

Despite three months rest the land was virtually devoid of vegetation and the sheep roamed about kicking up dust in scenes reminiscent of those we saw in Australia six months ago.

Two weeks of unbroken sunshine went some way to compensate for the shortage of grass and, subject to me providing the ewes with generous rations of cake and oats, 300-odd lambs got off to a good start.

Just before the first rain arrived, I applied a first dressing of fertiliser to most pastures. Exponents of GPS technology would be horrified at the inaccuracy of my spreading. My tractor tyres made no impression on the hard bare ground and most bouts with the spreader were done by inspired guess work.

The combination of warm weather and nitrogen greened up the farm in a matter of days, but I sometimes wonder whether the same money spent on twice the tonnage of feed grain might have done more good.

Lambing of the main flock is under way and our cheery vet students have arrived. We don’t normally feed ewes post-lambing as it causes such chaos among flocks of young lambs, but this year there is no alternative. With unusually high numbers of triplets born, we have invested in an ad-lib hot milk feeder. It is saving time and surplus lambs are doing well, but is proving costly in milk powder.

I must congratulate the BBC and the Beavan family on the Lambing Live programmes. Throughout the week it was made clear to all that the success of the sheep enterprise depended on attention to detail and care for the animals.

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