Farmer Focus: Daughters entrusted with ram selection and bids

During a week in mid-September, we had our annual TB test, and also dipped all the sheep.

These are not the jobs we look forward to but at the end of the week, it was a great peace of mind for us all to learn that we were TB and scab free.

These are two common animal health problems that are of great concern to many farmers, and can often be the initial cause of stress and mental health issues.

See also: New sheep dipping guidelines now in place – what to expect

About the author

Dafydd Parry Jones
Dafydd Parry Jones and wife Glenys, Machynlleth, Powys, run a closed flock of 750 Texel and Aberfield cross ewes and 70 Hereford cross sucklers cows on 180ha. Their upland organic system uses Hereford bulls, Charollais terminal sires and red clover silage, multispecies leys and rotational grazing.
Read more articles by Dafydd Parry Jones

The dipping was carried out through the procedure of the scab eradication programme in Wales (Gwaredu Scab).

We were contacted because we adjoined a neighbour with scab and, through blood testing with our vet, we were also identified as being scab positive.

It took a few hours to take all the flock through a purpose-built dipping lorry. It was a much nicer and easier job than in the old days when every ewe was dragged into the dip.

Most of our lambs were sold by mid-September, which is very pleasing as dipping will trigger months of not being able to sell lambs.

We attended an on-farm ram sale in mid-September to buy a few new additions to our flock. Both our daughters came with us and I left it to them to pick, and bid for, the rams.

They really enjoyed the buzz of bidding and getting some and losing some.

The female farmer in the ring was giving them the thumbs-up when they eventually got their Charollais cross Beltex.

I really think it’s important to let the younger generation be part of decision making – it will enhance their interest and build character, if you help nurture confidence in their opinion.

The rams were turned in to the ewes in early October. The ewes are looking well this year and we’re already excited for our crop of lambs next year, to see the results of our new rams.

As the rams go in, the bulls are taken out from the cows.

They’ve been brought into the shed to be sheltered from the rain and to avoid them poaching the increasingly wet fields.

But we do hope the cattle will be out for a while yet – if the sun comes out to play.