Farmer Focus: Advantages of doing own shearing

The end of lambing seems to be close to the start of shearing this year. As soon as we had got the hoggs clipped we started clipping ewes, as everybody has had sheep struck down on the east coast with all the wet and mild weather. It is getting more and more difficult to get shearers in this part of the world. There is something to be said for being able to clip your own sheep, as in a situation such as this year sheep getting struck down and not being able to get a shearer for a week.

I sent Luke, nicknamed Low Cost, our new apprentice, on a Wool Board shearing course under the watchful eye of Dougie Lambie. They are great courses with very professional instructors such as Dougie, and as I expected Low Cost has come back being able to shear.

Since we got clipped we have had three inches of rain in the last week. The lambs are doing ok though, apart from being plagued by sore feet, and we’re having to foot-bath every three days.

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I don’t often get on my soapbox, but I will not be attending Cereals this year, under protest. The whole of North Lincolnshire, one of the main wheat belts of this country, is smothered in blackgrass. Chemical manufacturers, can you please stop wasting your money on big marquees and free gifts to punters and put your money into developing a cure for this dreadful grass weed.

Low Cost (Luke) is coming on quite well and learning every day. You forget how clumsy teenagers are, though. They seem to engage their body before their brain. A prime example was this week when Luke fell down the granary stairs in front of his PA1 instructor. Then while cleaning the worming gun out yesterday he gave me a face full of wormer. Tom, my new sheepdog, returned the favour for me though, as Luke had left his dealer boots near Tom’s kennel and my ever-faithful sheepdog cocked his leg and urinated all over them.

James Read farms in partnership with his father, in Louth, Lincolnshire. They farm 400ha of mainly arable land, run 200 breeding sheep and a pack of working/trialling sheepdogs