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In your field: Kate Beavan - 'I prefer lambing outdoors and the lambs benefit from it'

We have had our first Covid-19 vaccination, so there is light at the end of the tunnel and the Easter sunshine helped.

Spring oats have been planted but we’re waiting for sheep to finish the swedes before the barley goes in and lime application last year has paid off with abundant grass for outdoor lambing.

 

We breathe a sigh of relief when the indoor lambing is finished and we start lambing our native breeds. Now when it goes dark we can actually sleep.

 

I must admit I prefer lambing outdoors. We rely heavily on the weather but the lambs benefit from being born and reared in the fresh air with fewer pathogens than in a lambing shed.

 

The fuel costs rise, however, as checking stock on the quad is essential and as many readers will know, ewes can run very quickly, even with a lamb’s head sticking out.

 

You do need a breed which can look after itself and get on with the job with minimal attention and I love our Epynt Hardy Speckled sheep, a commercial easy-care breed, bred to live in harsh upland environment with limited supplementary feeding.

 

We put 150 ewes to a Border Leicester to produce half-bred replacements and the remainder were put to Charollais cross Texel tups with some cracking lambs produced.


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The last of the Mule tup lambs from the speckles last year have just been sold at £125 for 44kg lambs.

 

I think we’re all suffering from mental exhaustion. Farming is hard enough but alongside caring for the old folks and taking on additional jobs, I have been having a few wobbles lately.

 

We finish lambing at the end of April and can hopefully have the odd day out in the camper van. Time off-farm is healthy and good for your mental health.

 

Just before the tree planting season ended we had what I think was a perfect tree planting day on a local farm.

 

The site was a steep bracken bank which was previously woodland.

 

The money for the trees, planting and aftercare was raised by a group from the critical care unit at Cardiff University Hospital wanting to plant a tree for every patient cared for over the last year and also to commemorate the staff who have worked so hard to provide care.

 

It will be a community woodland with cattle grazing in adjacent fields and 1,200 trees were planted with fundraising ongoing for other sites.

 

It was a special day, with some of the critical care staff planting the trees with us on the site. A huge thanks to the farmer, John Morris, for allowing it to happen.

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