Farmer Focus: Lambing costs still too high

Since my last article I’ve been mostly wondering around the yard at all hours of the day and night, looking like I’d been dragged through a hedge backwards, mumbling things I need to do, pockets full of everything and anything, with overalls that could stand up on their own. Or in other words we are lambing!

Our indoor flock is half way through and while slow to start they have now picked up the pace and are now keeping everyone busy. With problems at a minimum and the weather on our side, things are looking good. But even with everything going our way, indoor lambing is still very labour intensive and when factoring in labour costs and man hours, even if it’s all family labour, cost a ewe is still too high.

Our outdoor lambing flock has started slowly and early signs of our Aberfield-sired lambs are good. Easy lambing, full of vigour and quick to be up and sucking – they seem ideally suited to an outdoor lambing system. Deciding to use a drift lambing system as opposed to just set stocking the ewes has also proven to be a success. Moving ewes on daily and leaving ewes with lambs behind before moving them on to better grass covers once they’re strong enough to be moved with the dog is working well and is allowing us to keep a closer eye on the two separate groups.

I’ve been enjoying tuning into BBC 2’s The Hill Farm. Following Gareth and his family through the highs and lows of hill farming has not only provided the farming community with an enjoyable watch, but also has proven invaluable to educate consumers to the hardships faced by upland and hill farmers in the pursuit of providing them with food.

Hopefully, members of Tesco’s marketing and agriculture teams have been watching to help them avoid any more embarrassing incidents. Obviously they need to spend a little more time learning the basics again, even if it’s learning that just because a cow is black and white she doesn’t necessarily produce milk for human consumption.

Tom Jones lives on a 200ha upland beef and sheep farm near Lake Vyrnwy, Montgomeryshire. He also has a contract shepherding business looking after ewes locally

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