Farmer Focus: Our stolen sheep are another mounting statistic

Unfortunately, we have had some sheep stolen from the rented ground. We’ve lost 15 ewes and 24 lambs – about a trailer load.

It is upsetting and disturbing, but just another statistic at the moment.  

Second-cut silage proved heavier than anticipated. We filled the pits, made some nice haylage and, fortunately, our landlord needed some more silage for his sucklers.

We are lucky that we are friends and help each other out with a bit of flexibility. 

See also: How technology is helping farmers curb sheep thefts

Due to the theft, we moved stock back home, which put too much pressure on the rotation block, so we have weaned early, gone through all the ewes’ udders, teeth and toes and sold the cull ewes.

The dry ewes have been taken to the lovely aftermath grazing to improve before tupping at normal time. 

Last year’s delay – by a month – to tupping has put extreme pressure on the cashflow and stock numbers. All lambs will go next month when the market will probably be at its bottom.

We have always banked with HSBC and their continued support is helpful, especially with the new challenge of water-sensitive area requirements for manure and silage storage.

At the moment, the best option seems to be to apply for the mid-tier stewardship scheme to grant-fund two roofs over the stores to achieve total containment.    

Ram selling has started, with a few customers on farm. The superior longevity of grass-fed rams compared with concentrate-reared rams seems to be getting spotted by farmers out there. 

Stuffing ram lambs makes them look nice and possibly achieves higher prices, but does their internal organs no good at all. We bought some rams last year and they are looking very lean at the moment because they don’t know what grass is.

I took a week off inspecting feet to get some hay done to fill the barn. It is the first time ever my timing worked, giving us a little insurance after last year’s expensive feed buying.

We had a great day at the Royal Welsh looking at fantastic stock and shiny kit. Our children picked out a great Blue Texel ram that had been sold already, so the hunt continues. 

James and Belinda Kimber farm 850 commercial and pedigree sheep and 30 pedigree Simmental and Charolais cattle in Wiltshire across 95ha (45ha owned) with the help of their children, Josh, Izzy and Richard. James also runs a foot-trimming business and Belinda has a B&B.