Farmer Focus: Quads in hill sheep is frankly just stupid

We have just scanned the fell sheep, which came in a little bit too high at 164%.

This is 14% higher than we would ideally have liked because while twins are a bit of a hassle, triplets are 10 times worse.

We have scanned 65 sets of triplets compared with only 28 last year. We have even had two ewes scanned with quads – which is, frankly, just stupid in fell sheep.

See also: 3 ways to capitalise on high sheep scanning percentage

The barren rate was a little higher than we would have liked at 9%, which is up a couple of per cent on last year.

However, we still have more lambs scanned than last year, so we need to focus on how we will manage them, especially around grazing with the dairy drystock to ensure we have feed in front of them all.

The ewes have come off the fell, following no supplementation of any sort, in very good condition.

The Highlander ewes are consistently a body condition score (BCS) ahead of the Swaledales and scanning considerably better. This was the aim of the genetic change – so far so good.

Our ground, like most people’s up and down the UK, is waterlogged. We have been struggling to travel on our hardest fields with a quad bike, so a tractor would be a no go.

At time of writing we are on our second dry day and looking forward to a very cold dry spell so we can crack on with some fencing work and continue ongoing drainage work.

 The cows are in a slow period regarding calvings now, but it isn’t affecting milk volume and solids.

The herd is currently averaging 37 litres a cow a day at 4.2% butterfat and 3.38% protein, which we are very happy about.

Fertility is also consistently climbing after we had the blip last summer. Each three-week cycle since August scanning results has seen a 25-30% pregnancy rate, with 28% being our current target. Once we are at 28%, we will push for 30%. 

This has been down to a more stable silage in the ration, allowing the girls to perform well while maintaining BCS and fertility.

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