Marie Prebble runs a 93ha (230-acre) Ministry of Defence-tenanted farm with her parents, David and Diane, near Dover. Largely permanent pasture in Higher Level Stewardship, the farm is home to 400 breeding Romneys which Marie puts to high index Lleyn rams.
I have finally shifted all of my lambs, some fat and the last of the stores, benefiting from the improved lamb trade for the start of 2018.
Scanning went well. We managed to get the whole flock of 416 ewes done in little over an hour thanks to family helpers and a well-rehearsed set up, so the sheep moved nicely.
Our scanning man said his job was easier as I had deliberately emptied the sheep out for the whole day. They were also then keen to move as they were probably hungry and wanted to get back outside.
We scanned fractionally more singles than twins but I think this is to be expected when half the flock are hoggets. Only seven empty from 416 is a great result, and having only six triplets reduces the workload immensely. The flock will certainly be cheap to feed through the later stages of pregnancy.
I have kept 80 twin tegs inside and, of course, the triplets. Other years I have shorn and housed all my twins, but I am trying something different this year. Anything which has lambed before is staying outside on grass and some decent legume-rich big bale hay made in the summer.
The hogg singles will come inside in a few weeks so we can keep an eye on them as they lamb. I am mostly concentrating on getting the basics of lamb survival and growth rates right, although I will have the option of performance recording my pure Romneys for the first time this year.
It will be great to produce more quality females to sell privately and plenty of decent pasture-fed lambs for market. I already have buyers for last year’s crop of ewe lambs which are ticking along nicely.
I made some new signs to put on the footpaths explaining my sheep are pregnant and vulnerable to stress from dogs, with a photo of myself among my sheep in the hope the personalised approach drives the ‘Take the Lead’ message home at this crucial time.
We are lucky in Kent with our favourable weather. Some high winds and prolonged heavy rain is nothing compared to the heavy snow in Scotland. Sheep are as resilient as their keepers but I hope spring sunshine is not too far away, even if it does seem an eternity. Fingers crossed for a successful lambing for everyone.
If you would like some of Farmers Guardian’s Take the Lead signs send a stamped, self addressed A4 envelope to Take the Lead, Farmers Guardian, Unit 4 Fulwood Business Park, Preston, Lancs, PR2 9NZ.