Farmer Focus: It’s still hard not to take lambing failures to heart

Think positively – lambing has been awesome (reference to Bill Bailey’s “Limboland”).

I don’t think we have ever had the ewes lamb so fast. Belinda and I try really hard to maintain standards in the lambing shed.

Standards only slipped for about six hours, when we had to empty a pen to put another ewe in. Otherwise, all pens were cleaned and disinfected in between ewes.

So far, we have had only two cases of watery mouth.

See also: 4-step guide to reviewing antibiotics use on your farm

Sadly, we were let down with 10% iodine that was not the level it was described – probably not even 2.5%.

This had no drying effect on lambs’ navels, and, of course, it had to happen on a Friday night. We got some from the vets, but even so, you really don’t expect a bad product from a large company.

About 1,000 head are outside at the home farm, but frosty nights mean we have a lack of grass growth, so half the sheep are still inside. It is easier to feed half of the sheep inside than all of them outside.

The lambs have been good-sized and very lively. Most of the singles and triplets lambed together. However, we have still ended up with 50 pet lambs eating 20kg of milk powder each day.

A few fosters failed later in the yards owing to the speed of lambing and turning them out of the individual pens too quickly.

Unfortunately, we lost a few too many prolapsed ewes and had an internal prolapse. The old saying “if you’ve got livestock, then you get dead stock” is true, but losing them still affects me.

At this time of year, you get tired as part of the physical effort of trying to get it right. Any failures are upsetting.

Then, we have a warm, sunny day with lambs running around, and it definitely brings a massive lift.

Having gone from 100 individual pens to 10 in a week, it has given us time to tidy up. The amount of kit needed for a few days is incredible – it’s all washed and packed, ready for next year.

Now we have to start getting the bulls ready for the spring sales. Let’s hope things stay awesome and they walk in the halter beautifully.

James and Belinda Kimber 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 foot-trimming business and Belinda has a B&B.