Farmer Focus: Pleased with lambing given the poor weather

We’ve finished lambing the ewes here with 170% lambs down on the ground, which I’m pleased with considering the awful weather and lack of grass growth.

Now we are busy lambing 150 Aberfield-cross Romney hoggs, which on the whole is going pretty well.

We are lambing them outdoors, but with access to a shed and pens for any problems and also a catching pen as they can be fairly wild at times.

The workload has been quite heavy as we have also taken in a fresh batch of 120 calves, which have had to be tagged, vaccinated and trained on to the milk machine.

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Thankfully, they are getting the hang of it now and we can start to get some of the bigger sheep jobs done, such as tailing, vaccinating, and worming lambs and shearing ewes.

There is also a good chunk of fertiliser spreading to do.

See also: Could lambing later be more beneficial?

Last week saw the annual visit from Liverpool University veterinary school. They come every spring to take a look at the sheep, analyse performance and health records, and make improvements and suggestions to the system and health plan.

The students are always incredibly polite, enthusiastic and knowledgeable, and our relationship with the university is invaluable.

Many of their suggestions over the past few years have helped me make improvements to the sheep flock performance. This gives me great confidence in our future veterinary surgeons.

The past few months have been a roller-coaster ride in terms of weather – warm sunshine one day and blizzards the next. We seem to have finally got through the worst of it though.

My next big concern is the EU referendum. It looks like its going to be a close call.

As a young farmer I strongly feel that we need to remain in the EU to continue to benefit from the support and trade links that we have.

In truth, UK farming needs subsidy and free trade to remain competitive. I think leaving is too much of a gamble and would likely put us even further down the government’s priority list.

Is that really a risk worth taking at the moment?

Jim Beary contract rears 900 calves a year and has a growing flock of Aberfield-cross New Zealand Romneys on a county council farm. He also runs a contract gritting enterprise in winter.