The plan was to house the Suffolk cross ewes shortly after Christmas, shear them to reduce heat stress, stamp out the grumbling lice problem, then watch the destocked fields freshen up in the warm, wet conditions – so familiar in this era of global warming.
Unfortunately many of the buildings here at Southcott are closed against the prevailing south-westerly drizzle, but open to the north and east.
So when an anti-cyclone turned up on Boxing Day our sheep house became one of the most inhospitable places on the farm, making shearing out of the question. In fact we had to put up some temporary screening across one cattle shed when a couple of steers began to look a bit “peaky” in the face of a bitter east wind.
The lice problem, presumably exacerbated by close contact around the silage feeders, had escalated and many ewes, already a condition score below ideal, were driven to distraction and loosing weight fast. I had no choice but to apply a pour-on to the fleece and abandon shearing plans.
Even that didn’t go entirely to plan, as about half way through, she who reads instructions carefully turned up and pointed out that an eyesight malfunction had lead me to give them all 5ml more than the recommended dose. The treatment was a great success and within 48 hours the flock was lying about contented.
200 Mules are enjoying a tractor’s width strip of roots each day and we have begun feeding our ewe lambs generously.
With lamb prices at £3.50/kg as I write, any found to be empty on scanning should not expect to live long.
Incredibly, even Hilary Benn expressed doubts about EID at the Oxford Farming Conference, so if we keep lobbying we may yet get this ludicrous imposition overturned.
- More from Bryan Griffiths