John Alpe

1 May 1998

John Alpe

John Alpe

John Alpe farms in

partnership with his parents

at New Laund Farm at

Whitewell near Clitheroe in

Lancashire. Besides the

tenanted 80ha (200 acres)

at New Laund Farm, the

family own a neighbouring

farm of 36ha (90 acres), and

rent a further 40ha (100

acres). About 60 dairy cows

and 60 followers, 500

Swaledale and Mule ewes

and 250 store lambs are run

on the farms. Bacon pigs are

also fed on contract

OUR lambing season is coming to an end and a pleasingly high percentage of the sheep have lambed in the first 17-day cycle of their respective batches and due dates.

Perhaps the long-acting copper capsule we gave to the ewes last autumn to help conception has been effective. We also gave a secondary capsule to the ewes during mid-pregnancy to help prevent the sway-back in lambs.

Unfortunately, lambs becoming stiff with joint-ill has caused concern this spring, but after seeking the vets advice, administering long-acting Clamoxyl seems to have worked.

The weather is a crucial factor during lambing and fortunately it has been reasonably kind, with just two grim days; 2in of rain in one day made things very wet, and consequently lambing pens overflowed, and waking to find 2in of snow one morning was morally deflating. But compared with other parts of the country we have fared quite well.

Milk Marque has announced it will pay a bonus of 0.2p/litre for milk if the top hygiene band is achieved and maintained for 12 consecutive months, ensuring a Bactoscan of less than 50, in conjunction with a cell count of less than 150. We are lucky enough to have fallen into this category, so there should be a bonus on the way. Some of this unexpected windfall can go towards the £90 cost for our bi-annual dairy hygiene inspection. It seems a little unfair that we manage to achieve a bonus for milk hygiene which is tested every week and then have to pay for a statutory visit.

We undertook a new enterprise this autumn – in the form of four donkeys taking their annual winter break from Blackpool. They arrived in October and will stay until May. We wanted them for our children to ride, but is has proved to be an inspired piece of business compared with wintering feeding lambs, which have lost money, and milking cows seems to be going the same way. The donkeys are actually showing a positive cash flow. We have some undulating park type land in front of the farmhouse and I have always fancied a pair of magnificent hunting horses grazing it, but a donkey derby may be as near as it gets. &#42

Lambing is almost at an end for John Alpe, and has gone well despite snow.

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