Farmer Focus Livestock: Charlie Armstrong completes lamb weaning

Trying to get sheds built by harvest has proved difficult, with roof sheets going missing en-route, roller shutter doors taking even longer to arrive, and the builder cutting some fingers off on another job.

Weaning lambs is finished and they have been foot-bathed and dosed before going out on to clean fogs. Cull ewes went to Acklington Mart and averaged £60. Fly strike is still about and causing concern, but with lambs so near to killing, blanket treatment is not an option.

Harvest has started and our spring barley is drying in the sheds. Baling straw is proving a stop/start operation because of rain. Crops haven’t tillered and straw yields are low, but the quality is about 100 times better than last year. Fodder beet is starting to appear among the weeds because the weeds are dying back and the fodder beet is not growing well. Hopefully by January there might be a crop.

We bought 500 acres of arable land last month, which has kept us all busy, and machinery break downs haven’t helped. The plan is to sow the land with a permanent grass mix of perennial rye grass and 1.5kg of white clover. Getting this sown as quickly as possible is paramount, as breeding sheep will be bought to stock this farm before we enter into organic conversion. This will allow us to nearly double our breeding ewes and make up for selling our cows; there might even be room for a Welsh Collie.

Having bought a Holm & Loue calf-rearing machine three months ago, the first calves are about to be weaned. After a few teething problems, all was going well, until Saturday, when a gate somehow opened. Everything that could be chewed on the machine was chewed off – thankfully all the spare parts needed were in the box of spares.

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