Will Case farms 300ha (750 acres) in partnership with brother Simon and parents William and Margaret at Ulverston, Cumbria. Land is divided between Plumpton Cottage Farm and Robbs Water Farm, Barrow-in-Furness. They farm 1,000 lowland ewes, 90 pedigree Texel ewes, 65 Salers suckler cows, fatten 150 store cattle, 12,000 free-range laying hens and 100 dairy cows milked by robots.
Another month seems to have gone by in an instant! The last few weeks have been all about lambing here. It’s been a real team effort and our three boys are becoming an increasingly active part of our lambing crew. The Easter holidays were eagerly awaited and they’ve been busy lambing sheep ever since. We’re very much a family farm and it’s a wonderful thing to have your young sons helping alongside you, but it’s also fair to say that a pleasant air of calm descends around the sheep shed when they go back to school!
This has been a pretty good lambing season for us with the investment in the new shed paying off.
The protection the shed has given the sheep has also protected the land from the sheep’s hooves.
Usually this time of year our grass has been eaten up and paddled in, but we are surprisingly fresh with some decent early growth, all things considered. Ewes and lambs look well, all are being fed ewe rolls through the snacker. It has recently been fashionable to denounce the feeding of concentrates to sheep as the road to ruin, but after this winter, many people will be rethinking their feeding regime. You can only farm what’s in front of you.
With spare grass at a premium, selling any empty ewes has been an easy decision and it’s great to see the sheep trade in such fine form. Hopefully the lamb price stays strong as the season goes on. I think the autumn breeding sales could be interesting with many ewe and tup lambs being cashed up rather than kept. Every silver lining has a cloud!
This year we have made the decision to not grow any barley, or should I say the decision was made for us by the winter conditions that have ruined our winter barley. It seems to get more difficult every year to make a decent job of our crops, I’m not sure if it’s climate change or bad luck, but generally if it’s not raining in summer we probably should be making some silage! The distraction of our barley is one we could manage without, so we’ll leave it to the experts.
Speaking of experts, Michael Gove should perhaps spend more time with farming experts and a bit less time with environmentalists? At least he has acknowledged that “we need to talk food”.
Hopefully this is something that might grow into a forward looking food policy that really works for the UK. Rightly or wrongly, Brexit has given us this opportunity, it shouldn’t be wasted.