Farmer Focus: Quiet roads and cheap fuel suits while lambing

I will ty to refrain from mentioning the dry weather, but we could certainly do with some rain very soon if the spring crops are going to come to anything. 

Lambing has started with a bang. We have tried to group the ewes into a north and south district and split them between James our shepherd and myself.

James is looking after 800ish and I have 1,200ish about 25 minutes away.

See also: 13 tips for lambing outdoors

We have had one group of 160 ewes hit with a bad case of Campylobacter. The vet has advised to just ride it out and after lambing, disperse those ewes across the whole flock to get an immune response going before next year’s lambing.

Other steps we have taken have been to space out those ewes to try to avoid too much contact between them (more electric fencing) and pick up all afterbirth. 

We are now into day 10 of lambing as I write and are certainly picking up fewer aborted lambs so we hope we are over the worst of it. 

The Covid-19 situation hasn’t really affected us too much. Roads are empty and fuel is cheap which suits our style of lambing – but people are everywhere.

I appreciate everyone is trying to help, but when you see a picture of your sheep on a local resident’s Facebook page with the comment that it is “coughing, can’t find the farmer so should I call the RSPCA or a vet? Has it got corona?” it does make for stressful/comical reading. 

It’s fortunate I can rely on Jo to log on and gently explain that it is probably going to be all right and to just leave it alone.

Grass is as good as we have ever had it. A pre-lambing rotation gave us a lot of early growth and Jo has planted a couple of herbal leys for the sheep in the arable rotation so we will be having Ben from Hyde Hall come in and throw up a few thousand metres of fencing for us there.

The hope is to try and get a few hundred lambs away early to stop so much pressure in finding food for ewes and lambs over winter if it rains.

See Rob and Jo Hodgkins’ biography