Farmer Focus: Grass plentiful, but quality is a challenge

As ever, it’s been a busy time. We have finished collecting DNA samples from the recorded flock’s lambs.

These will be sent to New Zealand so we can determine parentage from the data, as well as several other performance indicators such as growth rates and parasite resistance.

After a sluggish start, lamb growth has exploded. The rain, sun and heat have combined to push the grass growth into previously unknown territory down here.

About the author

Rob and Jo Hodgkins
Livestock Farmer Focus writer
Rob and Jo Hodgkins run 2,300 ewes across 210ha of grass and have 566ha of arable in Hertfordshire, producing lambs for Tesco and breeding sheep through Kaiapoi Romneys. Subsidy-free sheep farming means ewes must be functional, lamb outdoors and produce lambs on forage alone.
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In fact, the topper has been flat out trying to cope. It certainly has been a struggle to maintain quality, and not have everything go to seed head. 

Because of the slow start to the season, the shearers have been delayed while they finish up in Wales, but we look forward to having Mark, Dion and the rest of the team come and stay for a few days and get our shearing wrapped up.

We should be able to do the second vaccination for clostridial diseases and pasteurellosis while shearing, if I can find someone to help. 

Holly, our shepherd, started on the sheep full time last week and is already making a massive difference in letting me have some time off.

I am certainly trying to ease back on the throttle a bit. Fortunately, I timed shearing to coincide with when Jimbo, our other shepherd, starts, so for once I am looking forward to shearing time as we’ll have loads of help.

We had our usual stand at Groundswell. It was a fantastic event. It’s been amazing seeing it grow over the past three to four years.

The standard of the speakers was excellent, and we have picked up a few new ewe lamb clients for the Romneys.

The really nice thing was that our new Mzuri Drill was the event’s demo drill, so we were able to take that back from the show to the farm.

We are super excited to see what it will be capable of. We had a demo earlier in the year and the spring barley it planted has excelled all season.

I imagine we will be putting it to full use this autumn (I say we – I have already been told I am not allowed to drive it).