John Bainbridge reflects on a difficult season

Seeing the last of our Mule gimmer lambs leave the farm is both a relief and a time to reflect on what has been a difficult season. The sales went well, probably exceeding many people’s expectations. Buyers from the south were in good shape helping trade, whereas local purchasers were a little more cautious.

I was pleased to be only £3 a lamb down on the year. The only problem now is trying not to spend too much of the lamb cheque on buying new rams.

Recently my part of the country experienced torrential rain and flooding, with nearby Ravensworth recording three times the expected rainfall in September. One local arable farmer, who I delivered some gimmer lambs to, is starting to wonder when he will get his wheat sown. With poorer crops this time as well, at least he may look more favourably on continuing to stock sheep.

Flooded roads prevented me getting a load of fat lambs away, but with prices dropping on the week it maybe wasn’t such a bad thing. Feedback from the last batch of prime lambs I sent to an abattoir recorded a few with liver fluke damage. This was no great surprise given the season and was a small wake-up call to begin fluke drenching.

Grass has lasted well this time but it’s beginning to diminish and it won’t be long before I start to bring some cattle inside and supplement the ones left out.

John Bainbridge farms 600ha (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.

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