Farmer Focus: Shepherds and shearers make light work

We held our first customer open day last month, and were really pleased with the result.

We welcomed more than 80 people to our main farm near Baldock. We took a trailer ride around the farm, stopped off at the ewe lambs, and to check out the Claydon and Mzuri drilling, then we had a range of questions and discussions at the stopping points.

The team did a great job fielding them all, then it was back to the barn for a lamb roast and a beer. 

About the author

Rob and Jo Hodgkins
Livestock Farmer Focus writer
Rob and Jo Hodgkins run 2,300 ewes across 210ha of grass and have 566ha of arable in Hertfordshire, producing lambs for Tesco and breeding sheep through Kaiapoi Romneys. Subsidy-free sheep farming means ewes must be functional, lamb outdoors and produce lambs on forage alone.
Read more articles by Rob and Jo Hodgkins

“Jimbo” the wonder student has now graduated from Harper Adams with a well-deserved 2:1 and has rejoined us as our head shepherd.

See also: How shearing lambs can improve growth and reduce labour

We are so pleased to have him back and now the A team is complete. We are so privileged to now have such a capable and knowledgeable young group around us.

Rob and I regularly comment: “Wow, so much is getting done today and we’re not having to do it.”

We have completed many training courses that tell you to employ better people than yourself. Now it’s down to us to step up and stay relevant.

We sheared early in July. A team of five shearers and a Rowsey did just over 1,100 one day, including a pack down and move of the Prattley halfway through. 

The wool is all going to Irish merchant Texacloth this year at a decent price. We are investigating the micron of our rams to see if we can find some superstars to lower our micron number and make a more desirable product – watch this space.

Jimbo and Holly have been busy weaning, collecting weights of the recorded stock to contribute to our Sheep Improvement Limited (SIL) data and preparing ewe lambs to leave for customers’ farms.

Monty has been combining our first perennial ryegrass for seed, grown for Germinal. We won’t know the true yield until it has been taken away and cleaned, but there’s a great heap of it.

We’ve also sold the hay and now we can get some digestate on it and then graze the aftermath, so it seems like multiple wins. We started spraying off crops on 26 July, meaning harvest will start early August.