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In Your Field: Marie Prebble - 'The current lamb trade is unprecedented in my time'

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.

By the time this reaches you I hope the worst of the weather has shifted to make way for some sunshine, or at least dry weather and grass growth.

 

Lambing sub-aqua for most of the main two-week duration was challenging. It made me grateful for numerous things, least of all my diving training, but, firstly, a lambing field for the twins with plenty of mature trees, banks and hollows. Most of the sheep even had the sense to lamb near shelter.

 

Secondly, a four-wheel drive quad bike to pull through the mud and two amazing dogs, and thirdly, a flock of resilient Romneys who coped remarkably well with day after day of downpours.

 

They really did prove their worth, as out of 120 twins I only had to assist two because of mispresentations, and bring in just a couple to the shed to give the lambs a better start.

 

The tegs inside also behaved on the whole, with just a couple who clearly had not read the ‘mothering-up’ handbook, looking at their lambs as if an alien had just landed in the pen with them.

 

Still, the shed is virtually empty of sheep, all my outside tailing is done and both mobs moved to better grass with the help of a couple of sixth form students who are applying to vet school. I managed to take my helpers for dinner at the end of the third week, which was much sooner than I thought I would be finished.

 

It turns out one is vegan and one vegetarian, but the other two ordered lamb shank at the meal, so on balance we made a good team.

 

My attention now turns to keeping everything moving forward and making sure the sheep keep up their contracts until weaning. No doubt I will be shearing before the month is out – my own rams first, a few pet flocks, then hopefully onto some big days when the sun makes certain of its intentions.

 

I am sure most of you are ready to see the back of a rotten few months and I hope things improve quickly. The current lamb trade is unprecedented in the time I have been farming. Let us hope it is the shape of things to come.

 

  • Marie is part of the National Sheep Association Business of Sheep Farming event being held at Hole Farm, Hadlow Down, TN22 4hb, from 9am to 5pm on June 2. With seminars and farm walk, for more information email Marie at marie@kentshepherd.co.uk or call 07702 043585
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