Farmer Focus: Lambs from the fell doing really well

This month saw us turning in all the dry cows and youngstock for winter. Normally they would be starting to make a mess – a result of our rainfall combined with heavy clay soils – but this year they made no mess at all. However, the weather turned to typical Cumbrian autumn clashy conditions.

The milking herd are ticking along quite well inside, now that we have the diet settled. It took a little bit of time to settle them because our second-cut silage was the best we have ever made at 20% protein, so it took a bit of time to hold it in the rumen.

We managed to get our 10ha of winter wheat for wholecrop drilled on the only dry day we had for a week near the start of the month. It has germinated, we have put an application of slug pellets on and so far it is looking good.

See also: More from the Livestock Farmer Focus writers

We gathered the fell ewes to treat for fluke and scab and supplement trace elements before tupping.

The ewes came in off the fell in very good condition and even though the main faces of the fell burnt out in the summer, the wetter areas high up had plenty of quality grazing, which seems to have carried them through.

They have now gone back to the fell until we gather for tupping mid-November, with the tups due to go out on 15 November.

Even though we still have plenty of good-quality grazing available, we have started giving any finishing lambs over 35kg ad-lib pellets to get a little extra finish on them to achieve a slightly better kill-out percentage. Even the smaller end not on feed are still growing at a tremendous rate – 300g a day off grass.

Nearly one-third of the fell lambs are now on the feeder, with some ready to go – which is the earliest we have ever had lambs ready from the fell stock.

It will be interesting to see how the highlander lambs out of swales grade, because last year they all went store, whereas this year we will finish everything.  

Read more by Patrick Morris-Eyton and see his biography