Farmer Focus: Ewes perform well but tups let me down

The annual sheep cycle started again with the pedigree rams going out on 8 September.

Luckily, we have lots of fields here for the 10 bunches of individual sire matings we do.

The spike in temperature at the beginning of September saw four Texel rams die. I had only just bought one at Worcester.

About the author

James and Belinda Kimber
Livestock Farmer Focus writers James and Belinda farm 850 commercial and pedigree sheep and 30 pedigree Simmental and Charolais cattle in Wiltshire across 95ha (45ha owned) with the help of their children Josh, Izzy and Richard. James also runs a foottrimming business and Belinda has a B&B.
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The replacement commercial gimmers have had both their abortion vaccines ready for tupping on 10 October. After a good growing year all the ewes look well.

See also: How to work out ewe efficiency and what it can tell you

Having crunched the numbers, the large number of triplets born hasn’t resulted in greater lamb sales, with heavy losses in April and May. 

Commercial ewes sold 191%, ewe lambs did 80% and pedigree ewes managed 120%. The pedigrees had quite a lot empty, and we culled those not-in-lamb after two cycles.

Although experts say a higher number of lambs results in greater profit potential, perhaps for us a slightly lower scanning percentage might result in better financial performance. 

So far, with only 200 prime lambs left, we are running about £10 above market average. This year the lambs have averaged 40.5kg and there has been £110.53 banked, on average, for every lamb sold – it shows quality pays.  

I hope you have all been reading the proposed future support for food production, if you can call it support. There is an interesting section that proposes payment for trees.

But not just any trees, they must be 30cm DBH which is “diameter at breast height”. Now, if you are a tall, athletic, perky young thing you’ll get a different measurement to a mature little granny where time and gravity have taken their toll.

Because we do a lot of work at weekends an unusual problem was encountered recently.

The running lambs are going onto clean grazing after we recently ran out of Monepantel drench. I phoned the farm suppliers on Saturday lunchtime.

They said yes, they had some, but I couldn’t have it because there was no Suitably Qualified Person (SQP) there to give it to me (now also known as Registered Animal Medicines Adviser).

I phoned another supplier in the opposite direction. They too said they had some, but I couldn’t have that either. The world is going bonkers.

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