Farmer Focus: Plans for deer farming diversification

Winter seems to be in a hurry to have its presence felt, which for most of us is way too soon.

On a happy note, my Huntaway bitch, Jenna, has held in pup, which is a relief after a series of unfortunate events on the Huntaway front over the past two years.

I flew Jenna over from New Zealand last year and after a character-building start, she is turning out to be really quite good.

In fairness, she had massive boots to fill. I’m looking forward to working with this bloodline. Our son Dusty is going to love the pups.

See also: Sold on quick and tidy steel fence posts

Pip and I are going into a slightly new venture – we are going to try our hand at farming a handful of deer.

It’s something that has always interested me, as I had a lot of friends involved in deer farming in New Zealand.

We plan to start small, feel our way around and see what happens, but we’re excited about doing something a bit different.

We have some great contacts and lots of support, so we’re looking forward to it – just not the fencing.

I have so much to do already. This just adds to my list.

See also: Lifetime sheep shearing goal achieved

On the sheep front, I have done what I promised the wife – we have wound back the numbers a bit to give ourselves a slightly easier year.

The past three or four years have been extremely busy with immigrating, taking on the farm, getting married, moving house, having a baby and achieving a shearing world record.

So it looks as if we are going to put 900-1,000 ewes to the ram.

I am a little bit disappointed we’re stepping back, but sometimes less is more and it’s only for one year, then we will see where we want to go.

In our bid for an easier year we have kept back mainly ewes that have lambed at least once, which was quite easy as we have a young flock. So we sold all of our two-tooths and most of our lambs. Tupping time is looming.

Matt and Pip Smith run 1,085 breeding Romneys and Romney cross Lleyn ewes across 121ha. Matt is also a shearing contractor and train sheep dogs.