Farmer Focus Livestock: Sheep scans are good news for Bill Metcalf

Scanning results for the Swaledale ewes are almost identical to last year, with Shipley ewes averaging more than 180% while at Barningham, with rather more young ewes coming in, at 162% with triplets down to about a dozen here.

Some of the remaining N of E Mule lambs were put to the Texel ram in December with 45 scanning in lamb. The rest will probably go to slaughter as recent wether lambs have been averaging £60 with all marketing costs off.

This is similar to last year when lambs were worth more to kill than as shearlings in September, we actually had a lamb classified as an E3L, a first for us.

Cull ewes have been making double the cost of some of our breeding replacements in the back end – this could further reduce the breeding flock. Whatever the reason for the better returns, be it the weak pound or shortages of stock, the future may hopefully be better after a tough year of increased costs.

With regards to the traceability of sheep – the new electronic ID will be no better than present, as purchased sheep require no additional marks for identification and therefore, are traceable only to the farm of birth. Not having it would save millions.

Having finally got the relevant permissions to begin our hedgerow work, a near miss occurred while clearing some hedge to prepare for planting and regeneration of an old hedge line. The mini-digger chose an awkward moment for a spool valve to stick, lifting it partially off the ground. And at the same time the bucket was pressing some thorns down on a fire – major panic and extremely quick changing of two pipes to reverse the direction of lift saved the day.

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