Farmer Focus: Took our eyes off the ball with worm burdens

There is no end in sight yet for the madness at present. For every job that gets crossed off the whiteboard, two more are added.

We’ve drilled 140ha of forage crops for the sheep. I think a combination of new gear and another 1,000 ewes arriving this month meant I maybe went over the top.

However, our silage stocks are well below normal and I wanted to ensure we had an excess of forage. Our neighbour, Ralph, is also putting a few fields of turnips in for us.

It seems the new tractor is barely turned off at the minute, with me and Jo running a tag-team operation on it to try to make sure it is running for as many hours during the day as possible.

See also: AHDB chair shares his low-cost suckler and sheep systems

We have also cultivated 120ha ready for drilling and disced another 247ha. And we rolled 120ha of the cultivated stubbles, ready for the drill.  

We’ve marked all the cull ewes to be culled. We’ve had the opportunity to take an extra-hard line in selection as we have an excess of ewe lambs that can replace them.

Those 250ish replacements are now on some plantain leys and I am pleased to see they are transforming almost by the day. 

Because we are so busy, we took the opportunity to treat all the ewes with pour-on to see us to the end of the fly season.

Unusually, we have also wormed the ewes, as the drought followed by rain caused a big hatch.

With the pair of us being so busy, we dropped the ball on the commercial lambs, not realising how badly they were getting hit by the worm burden.

Some faecal egg counts showed eggs per gram values of 804, 830 and 1,125 (low <250, medium 250-700, high >750).

Every lamb got a moxidectin drench. A big thank-you is owed to Alex, the contract shepherd, for coming down so quickly to give us a hand.

We still need a shepherd. If you fancy working on a 2,000-head New Zealand Romney flock, please do get in touch.

See Rob and Jo Hodgkins’ biography