Farmer Focus: Lambs away faster with new genetics

This month we have had some amazing weather, with temperatures getting to the high teens here for a few days.

However, it lulled us into a false sense of security because since then it has been pretty wet but still warm.

This has kick-started our grass growth following an application of liquid ammonia sulphate across the farm, with only the steepest fields missing out. We have also put on 260t of lime following a soil analysis with one old pasture field down to pH4.8.

The day after writing my last piece we scanned the sheep with a massive improvement on last year’s disaster on the fell stock.

The ewes scanned at 133% which is slightly above the normal for our fell sheep, although the Highlander-cross shearlings scanned at 175% and these have been running with the rest the whole time so we are very impressed so far.

See also: Sheep genetics study hopes to use data to raise flock profit

Body condition score (BCS) for the flock is at 2.75 on average, which is good for hill sheep and we put it down to the kind winter and good back end.

We are down to the last 30 fattening lambs to sell which will all go this month. Again, this is well ahead of a normal year.

Typically, we would still have a fair chunk of the fell lambs left to sell going into March. We are putting the improvements down to genetics, with Highlanders having better growth and carcass than the Swaledale lambs.

The cows keep improving, they are now running at 35 litres a day and have never looked better. They are eating a large proportion of third cut with no adverse effect on milk or components to date, with butter fat staying above 4% and fertility is looking good.

The calves are doing well on the milk powder we began on Christmas day, with growth rates now averaging 0.95kg/day. They are healthier and we are seeing fewer issues when we transition on to powder.

Next month will hopefully bring some very exciting news. In the meantime, we wait with bated breath.

Patrick Morris-Eyton is a Farmer Focus writer from Cumbria. Read his biography.