James Powell: 'Sheep have been scanned with Mules at 201 per cent'


A little wetter and colder weather has made most of our ground too damp to cross with heavy machinery, although a few frosty mornings and a keen helping hand mean we have spread all of the liquid out of the slurry pit.


This has created some space and a few weeks’ grace till we can get the drier muck out to spread.


Sheep have all been scanned with Mules at 201 per cent, which includes well more than one-quarter of those being triplets, while the Aberfields came in at 175 per cent, which sounds worse than it is.


With only four empties, the big drop was in triplet-bearing ewes, reduced to fewer than 5 per cent, which makes for a versatile sheep which can easily be managed in a low cost outdoor lambing environment.


It is the triplets each year we find are labour and cost intensive, leaving mismatched pairs or nutritional maternal problems.


Ewes have all had their clostridial vaccinations, fluke and boluses, and are handling well, as are many around the country. Although it seems from a few early reports circulating, the warm weather last autumn has already left a legacy in the form of Schmallenberg rearing its ugly head again.


I only hope it has not affected too many flocks, but we will soon find out, as flies were prevalent well into late November. It could be significant to many, but we hope not, as it is such a distressing affliction for all concerned.


On a lighter note, we cannot help watching Donald Trump settling into his new role as President of the USA with all the subtlety of a hungry pig in a cake shop.


It is like watching a Jeremy Kyle show as he tweets, blurts and brags, while the teams on the ground try to keep the peace by talking it down. And congressmen in the more down-to-earth states cringe at what is to come.


In among it all, I cannot help but think there is a small stone quarry just north of the Mexican border which may just turn into a financial goldmine.

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