Farmer Focus Livestock: Lambing is drawing to a close for John Bainbridge

As I write, in the last week of April lambing is nearing an end. A full week of live military firing certainly livened things up among the pure Swaledale shearlings, causing much miss-mothering among these already volatile sheep. Also, troops unexpectedly dry training in some lambing fields was an unwelcome event earlier in the month.

Though inconvenient, this sinks into oblivion when I think of those shepherds in Scotland who have experienced severe losses. I hope they can be given some financial aid in their extreme circumstances. Last autumn one of the sights I remember well was an artic wagon full of Swaledale rams leaving Hawes auction mart for the Highlands of Scotland. I fear many will not have made it to this spring after the harsh winter.

Grass is still in short supply and concentrates are being fed hard to keep the milk flowing. Any thoughts of cutting back at this stage to save expense would be a false economy. One expense is our policy of vaccinating against orf. A bad outbreak among a batch of bought-in ewes and lambs, when I first came to Dousgill 25 years ago, has made it a priority to vaccinate lambs at four to six weeks old.

The cost of keeping lambs on track will have to be rewarded later in the year. The price we received recently for some cast sheep made a known pessimist like myself think things can only go one way. However, unlike the past 10 turbulent years, maybe the future is brighter for the livestock industry.

On 20 November 2009 I left RPA in Northallerton having been told my new maps would be with me in six to eight weeks. Hopefully the next time I write they will have arrived.

• For more columns from other Farmer Focus writers

See more