Farmer Focus: New stock rams purchased ahead of tupping

It seems like we’ve been on countdown to the end of summer this month, writes Tom Jones.

Here, our progress through summer is not judged in days or weeks, but in how many local shows are left. And with the last one fast approaching, our attentions are already turning to the next breeding season.

The first ram purchases of the year have been made, with four high-index, grass-fed, Lleyn rams and three NZ Romneys of a similar quality arriving on the farm.

With a plan to increase our North Country Cheviot flock, these boys will have their work cut out in November.

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The Aberfield ewe lambs that we have for sale are attracting interest, with many new potential customers describing the same situation of purchasing overfed stock that underperformed when tested.

Hopefully our selection and rearing in true commercial conditions will help avoid this.

Finished lambs continue to leave the farm, freeing up higher-quality grazing for flushing and tupping ewes later in the year. Lambs grazing our plantain and clover ley seem to be growing well.

With a bit of luck we will have them weighed next week to see how they’ve progressed over the past month.

What has been most impressive is how the plantain has performed on one of our poorest fields, which in the past has not been used for anything other than drying off ewes.

I’m sure it will go on to play an important part in our system.

Earlier this month we made the trip to the NSA Sheep Event in Malvern. Organisers must be congratulated once again for putting on an excellent day.

As usual, I came home with a head full of ideas and a bag full of literature that I’m still trying to get through.

A good selection of EID handling equipment was on show, and much of it now features heavily on my wishlist. I am left wondering how – or if – I can ever justify the high price tags.

It’s a shame they can’t be justified by a good lamb price, which is permanently at the top of my wishlist.


Tom Jones lives on a 200ha upland beef and sheep farm. He also has a contract shepherding business looking after ewes locally.