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Marie Prebble: 'Cull ewes I planned to sell have had a reprieve'

Time always goes faster when there are a lot of jobs to be done in a finite interval.

Time always goes faster when there are a lot of jobs to be done in a finite interval.

 

I dagged all the ewes and paid particular attention to feet so I know I have done everything I can to prevent unnecessary handling during tupping, and fewer jobs for my father while I am away shearing in New Zealand.

 

I put the rams in on November 14, a little later than the usual, so I will be home in time for scanning and a slightly delayed lambing season.

 

The game of damage limitation played in the lead up to a late mating is not to be recommended, neither is the fence-jumping, head-bashing or overly boisterous welcome our rams greet hay customers with. All this does much for shepherding anxiety.

 

I sold 116 store lambs at Ashford on November 4, with one big lot of 74 selling at £64.50, one of the top prices for crossbreds on the day, which was pleasing.

 

I took 54 fat lambs to market soon after but they struggled to make 160p per kilo, so I brought half of them back to a rented field which has a nice new ley, so we can try again in a few weeks if trade has improved.

 

The last batch of Kent Shepherd lamb boxes will be keeping customers content and freezers well-stocked over winter. The cull ewes I planned to sell in November have had a reprieve until the New Year as the trade is lacking demand.

 

There is plenty of forage in store in case of snow. With ewe numbers down slightly and the flock grazing near home, I hope looking after and feeding ewes should be straightforward.

 

April is a long way off and the ewes’ demand for feed during pregnancy to mitigate the ‘hungry gap’ needs to be managed carefully for a healthy lamb crop next spring.

 

Running round after sheep for months makes the idea of a 24-hour flight slightly less awful. My 30kg luggage allowance has been used entirely with shearing gear, having spent what seemed like a small fortune before I left.

 

Still, I know it will have paid for itself quickly when I am shearing every day in New Zealand. The next time I write will be just before Christmas, having had a few weeks to adjust to shed life, big sheep, and lots of shearing.

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