Farmer Focus: Fortunate to have good friends

A very good friend of ours, who I sheared sheep with on and off for years around the world, was tragically killed in a car accident in France.

We were meant to be going to his wedding in a few weeks. I was in the middle of cultivating 17ha of our winter crops to put back to grass before the rain.

When we asked his family if there was anything we could do to help, they suggested we fly to France to support his fiancé and baby girl until his family could make it over from New Zealand.

We left for the airport within an hour of that phone conversation. We are incredibly fortunate to have such good friends who we could call upon here to step in without question, even though they are busy themselves.

We were able to finish all our cultivation work before the rain set in (we had 60% of our April rainfall that weekend).

See also: Read more from our livestock Farmer Focus writers

The ground was disced, rolled with our Cambridge roller and then power-harrowed. After that we sowed the seed with our new seed drill, which I had made to my own design specifications.

The finish looks really good and I’m looking forward to measure the growth to see how successful the strike rate is. I’m glad our neighbour, Matt Gynn, used the drill for the first time, as technology scares me a little.

Lambs docked

All lambs have been docked and given fly prevention treatments to take them through to shearing at weaning, which will be early July.

We also sex ear mark them for easy management; I hate seeing lambs covered in spray marker.

The stock are looking well on the whole. We needed the rain to keep the grass in front of them. All the mobs on trial fields are being intensively cell-grazed and going ahead well.

We were pleased with our docking percentage given our scanning was lower than other years. Our mortality rate for both lambs and ewes has been really low this year compared with others, which has left us on par for a reasonable year. We have been so incredibly lucky with the kind spring.

Meanwhile, the hinds are starting to calve, so its exciting times on the deer front.


Matt and Pip Smith run deer,1,085 breeding Romneys and Romney-cross Lleyn ewes across 121ha. Matt is also a shearing contractor and train sheepdogs.