John Bainbridge ponders the future of sheep production

I recently had an enjoyable evening out at my local North of England Mule AGM with guest speaker H&H auctioneer Stuart Bell. He recalled the establishment of the Mule breed and gave his thoughts on the future of the sheep industry.

As many of us agreed, he believed hill farmers would be key to fat lamb production in the future rather than their more prominent role of producing breeding sheep. Commercial farms tending towards closed flock systems, buying fewer replacements and farmers opting to provide grazing for sheep off the hills, were two of a few reasons given.

All farmyard manure was spread in January when we thankfully had several frosty days but the windy weather soon returned. Once again I found myself trying to depart my tractor without the door flying off, and then unload a round bale before the plastic wrap and half of its contents blew away.

I spent one blustery afternoon not at LAMMA but at a mini version put on by a local machinery distributor and realised how easy it could be to unload a bundle of cash. Time will tell whether these firms are in for a quieter period due to tax changes and the current Euro situation.

While using barley to feed youngstock and for those unfortunate times when spreading out dusty bedding straw, I purchased some apparently top-of-the-range masks. However, I noticed that after a few days the elastic straps would just snap. Whether my head is simply too big I’m not sure.

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