Farmer Focus: Welcome rain arrives at last

It has rained! That brings our total to 65mm since March.

We are getting through weaning at 84 days on average to try to protect the ewes and get lambs on to better ground.

Having weaned about 600 ewes so far, the results are: singles at 320g/day, with the twins on 280g. Average ewe weight is 65kg

We did an AHDB project last year putting clover under solar panels. Results have been incredibly positive, with a clover-dominant sward taking over the slow-growing grass originally planted.

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Lambs have been wormed and fly-treated and have gone on to the solar panel ground. Hopefully we won’t have to touch them for a few weeks – all they have to do is grow. 

I have also bought myself a second-hand 3m Moore unidrill  for £3,100. It has been pressed into service putting oats and berseem clover into 24ha of failed spring rape.

This should provide some great lamb finishing tucker and be flea beetle resistant. If nothing else the neighbours can have a good laugh at my misses and wiggly lines.

One slight mishap I had was two-thirds of the way through drilling I realised I was not going to have enough diesel to finish and I had already drained the farm tank, so I had to do the farmer’s drive of shame and take the Massey to Tesco and put £70 of white diesel in it to finish – felt like burning fivers.

We have another 35ha of cover crop to put in next week after the winter barley has come off. And being the eternal optimist, I am going to give stubble turnips another go, with 60ha going in after some wheat has been harvested.

This should give us a very large wedge of winter food to keep us going. The idea is that ewes will be in great condition over winter, lambs will be away early and I hope by coming off our lambing ground in the next few weeks, we should not need an application of nitrogen in the spring.

The drill should have paid for itself in about a month – one of my rare great investments.

Rob and Jo Hodgkins, Hertfordshire, produce lambs for Tesco and breeding sheep through Kaiapoi Romneys on 330ha of grazing licenses. Farming without subsidy means sheep must be functional, lamb outdoors and produce lambs on forage alone.