Farmer Focus: Never had lambs this late before

Spring has sprung here in Hertfordshire. Energy levels are up (sort of) and we are go, go, go.

We launched our new website last month,, a website for our farm, sheep, farming system and benchmarking club.

We have packed all the electric fence away and now the ewes are meandering back towards their lambing paddocks looking a bit fat. Thanks to Marc Hughes, his shearing team and James, we have all the ewes vaccinated for clostridial disease and crutched.

See also: How late lambing system helps farmer supply Co-op contract

We debated whether we should shear the sheep before lambing but, sadly, time got the better of us as Jo is twitching to get drilling done as the ground is drying out, and I’m twitching to get sat on my 8400 John Deere hire tractor doing cultivation work – cheap horsepower and my boyhood dream.

We got 80ha of grass and spring barley drilled at the end of February. This may seem a little bit early for the grass but Jo offered me the slot to have the work done and I didn’t dare risk being put to the back of the queue.

We should have all the peas in this week, and some of the spring barley. I’ll hopefully get the remaining 64ha in before the end of the month.

This will hopefully mean we can get the last of the ewes on the lambing paddocks, get the maternity shed ready for lambing and apply the second dose of fertiliser on the arable ground before lambing kicks off in earnest.

I must admit that we are scratching our heads at the moment as we’ve got 100 lambs left that we are finishing. Up until now, the latest we’ve ever had any is February so we’re not sure what to do with them.

They’ve been weighed and average 39kg – so they’re nearly there. We’re even considering breaking out a feeder (filled with grainstore sweepings), which would be a change from our ‘forage only’ model.

The lamb price is creeping up as it always does this time of year so those last few will probably be the highest average price we have had.

See Rob and Jo Hodgkins’ biography