Archive Article: 2001/02/02

2 February 2001

Bill and

Jonathan Metcalf

Bill and Jonathan Metcalf

rent 89ha (220 acres) of

grassland, plus moorland

grazing, near Barnard Castle,

and own a further unit 12

miles away, both are

situated in the Less Favoured

Area of Teesdale. The farms

are stocked with 120

sucklers, including 20

pedigree Blonde dAquitaines,

and 1200 ewes with

200 replacements

WITH the New Year came the introduction of lamb tagging when animals leave the holding of birth. This is much more worthwhile in terms of traceability, allowing purchasers to follow back on any problems, than other schemes which place burdens on our farms.

Having looked forward with confidence to a better return from sheep, it arrived earlier than anticipated with lambs up £10/head in a week. However, so much for our earlier prediction that we were in for a light lamb crop in the wake of the damp autumn: When Tim Wilkinson arrived to scan we were pleasantly surprised.

Tupped Mule hoggs are expecting 50 singles, 18 twins and only two are geld. The childrens dozen black Mule flock scanned at more than 200% and among the Swaledale ewes, although we scanned 100 fewer sheep than last year, we have 30 more twins.

The 20 geld ewes, which would normally have been checked again later with shearlings and moor sheep, went to market averaging more than £20/head with no extra feed. Shipley Swales scanned just as heavily so lambing time may be quite busy.

We will shortly be out of the retention period for suckler cows allowing us to sell some heifers included in our claim. Currently we are attempting to produce extra calves from one of our better Blond dAquitaine cows by storing her embryos.

Several years ago, this cow came within a couple of hours of being put down after damaging her back when being bulled and subsequently not attempting to move for several days.

On the subject of AI, a problem came to light recently when a local farmer took his newly purchased tup to the vets with a receptive ewe to aid semen collection but the tup refused to oblige. He mentioned this to the previous owner who couldnt believe it as he didnt dare reach down to pick up a bucket in the field because the tup was so keen. We suggested that the previous owner should accompany the tup to the vets next time along with his bucket. &#42

Despite difficult autumn conditions, scanning predicts a busy lambing time for Bill Metcalf.

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