Farmer Focus Livestock: Charles Armstrong is concerned about sheep hill farming

We have bought all our ewes and they have now been dosed for fluke, crutched out and marked with a big blue A just in case they stray.

A big proportion of these ewes are Blackfaces coming off heather covered hill farms. But this will be the last time myself or anyone else will ever buy sheep off many of these farms as DEFRA, Natural England and the RSPB are removing them to protect or enhance the environment – how little do they know.

These hills, with no sheep on will turn into a birdless zone enhanced only by ticks. And should walkers manage to penetrate heather over waist height they will make good tick fodder.

Fortunately, every few years there will be wild hill fires that will curtail the tick invasion and burn many acres of surrounding forestry. And by the time the first payments are made to the farmer or landowner the shepherds will have gone. Oh what a sad month buying sheep in Northumberland has been.

However, when they decide sheep are needed to manage their out-of-control-habitat, fences will no longer be stock proof, hefted sheep won’t be there to purchase nor will experienced men to run these hill farms.

It’s important this is stopped else I fear we will look back in a few years time with great regret regarding the HLS Hill Clearances of 2009.

On a brighter note all the cattle have had there TB test and passed. They are now inside eating poor silage. I only say this as at our local discussion group we all had our silage analysed and compared to dairy cow silage. My dairy cow would only milk about eight litres a day. But as she is an Angus suckler things will be fine.

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