Time marches on as we enter September. With dip showering out of the way and most lambs weaned, attention has turned towards preparing our mule gimmer lambs for forthcoming sales. The first task is to shear off their belly wool and, indirectly, this process ensures they are of the right sex.
Prior to the sales these lambs will also be dipped twice and have their necks dressed before finally being washed. Some people would deem this practice unnecessary, but to us they are a valuable commodity and it is important to present them well.
With early mule shearling sales averaging £15-£20 up on the year, talk is of ewe lamb prices also increasing. A slight rise would be welcome, but nothing too excessive, so that the market keeps a steady position.
Grass has been plentiful for the time of year. Straw crops in this area have been much improved compared to last year, reducing the stress of sourcing extra straw during winter.
During August I managed a break away with my wife to south Wales, partly to visit a charity we support in helping to rehabilitate young men and women.
While in the area we called in at Builth Wells market and that made me realise I was in the region of a few good Bluefaced Leicester breeders. After tracking a family down who had been breeding these sheep enthusiastically for 40 years, we spent a couple of hours discussing the breed’s good and bad points. Their hospitality was truly appreciated.
John Bainbridge farms 600 ha (1,483 acres) of rented MOD hill land near Richmond, North Yorkshire, along with 21ha (52 acres) of family owned land with his sons Lance and Reuben. His 1,400 sheep, plus followers, along with 70 suckler cows are the main farm enterprise.