Farmer Focus Livestock: Bryan Griffiths attracts youngsters into sheep farming

We have had enough thunder and rain to keep things growing. Earlier fears that forage would be scarce proved unfounded as silage yields have been surprisingly heavy.

As usual the dry ground has out-performed the wetter places. Our minimum requirement target, of half a bale for every ewe and five bales a head of cattle, will be easily met.

We still have a few acres closed up in late May to cut, hopefully in early July. Liz has spent several riveting afternoons wrapping bales with our trusty Massey 165. The old girl is knocking on a bit now (the tractor I mean), but is still as sound as the day it arrived new in 1975.

We found ourselves short-handed on the shepherding front recently, when both our collie bitches had pups in the same week. Fathered by a well-bred dog, the puppies should in theory grow into some useful animals, but in my experience finding the best dogs is down to 30% breeding and 70% luck. I once had a dog with an impeccable pedigree that never did a stroke of work in the 14 years it lived.

It always helps if a young dog’s enthusiasm for work coincides with the regular simple tasks, with “well-trained” sheep.

We spent an enjoyable day at the South West Sheep Event where, as a member of the committee, I was tasked with showing round a party from the local primary school.

Aware of the limited attention span of my charges, I concentrated on the action aspects of the show; working dogs, shearing and young farmers’ quad bike handling. And when a seven-year-old lad looked up and said “Mr Griffiths, sheep farming is just so cool” I really thought I’d cracked it.

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