Farmer Focus: Lambing has been a pleasure

Lambing was a pleasure; there you are, I said it out loud!

I am down to my last three to lamb and things have gone well in the lambing shed. I had the normal disasters at the start, which can really get you down and those small losses can seem huge.

But most of the ewes lambed in the first two weeks, with only 19 left out of the 220 at the start of week three. Ewes were fit going into lambing, which had concerned me, but the expected problems didn’t materialise.

I have made a number of changes to my sheep enterprise this year and I’m not sure if it was all or one in particular that made the difference, or was it just the kind winter?

Was it that the ewes were bolused earlier prior to lambing? I had been told by a friend that getting the cobalt right in the weeks before lambing can make a big difference to lamb survival, so I bolused five weeks before lambing, which was much earlier than last year.

Or was it that I condition scored more regularly with any triplets and leaner ewes getting the best grass? Or was it that I changed the way I fed the molasses?

This year, I had two watering cans and I ran along the feeders before I put in the soya-based feed.

So was it just the kinder winter? I’m not sure, but I know my ewe and lamb mortality is down and lambs were certainly more willing to survive.

Now for stage two – fat, fit and ready! 

Last year, I introduced red clover to my new swards and the growth this spring has been phenomenal. So far, all the grazing grass has just had 135kg/ha of 10-26-26 with sulphur and no additional N.

But yesterday, I had to close up part of the sheep-allocated area for silage as it was getting past them.

It is likely I will be taking out cattle paddocks soon, as they are leaving too much cover for my liking.

Fodder beet, swedes and undersown wholecrop were finished yesterday, so now it is time for stone gathering. 

Michael Shannon finishes 150 head of mostly Angus beef stores each year and runs 280 Scotch Mules on a 100ha forage-only enterprise, as well as free-range turkeys for Christmas, near Biggar, Lanarkshire. Meat is sold through his online business and farm shop Damn Delicious, with surpluses sold deadweight.