Marie Prebble: 'Some dog walkers are not totally ignorant, but sheep worrying keeps rising'

Sheep worryingTake The Lead

A lot of you will be in the depths of lambing as I write. I hope the season is progressing successfully, with a healthy lamb crop for you all. Gladly, I still have a couple of weeks until kick-off here, so it is time to assemble individual pens and do the only shopping trip of the year I enjoy – to buy routine lambing supplies.


Eartags are ordered as I plan to double tag the ewe lambs at birth and record the main flock’s mothering performance as usual. I have a long way to go to improve the attention to detail in management I am aiming for, although every year seems a bit more straightforward and efficient.


I often wish I had spent, or could spend now, more time lambing for other farmers to gain more practical experience of different systems and set ups. It is always great to see how other people approach lambing, and social media is great for sharing tips to make life easier for shepherd and sheep.


Social media recently triumphed when a ewe was spotted on her back in a field near a London airport and a picture was shared online. It was not long before the shepherd’s sister, living in Wales, saw the post and made contact to get the sheep up.


Another positive story is a phone call I received from the NFU to tell me one of my ewes had been stuck in brambles overnight. The union had been contacted by a passing dog walker, who had the initiative to read the NFU sign I had put up and track me down. There are still some members of the dog-walking public who are not totally ignorant, yet sadly the number of horrific cases of attacks by dogs on pregnant ewes continues to rise.


My twins are shorn and inside eating big bales of clover hay, so are easy to feed and will be having cake over the next few weeks to get some healthy lambs on the ground. The weather has been mild and the grass is growing since being fertilised before my parents took a much deserved week’s holiday in Wales, leaving me to shear in the sun.


I was lucky enough to attend a course run by British Wool Training and Matt Smith, so I have no excuses now I have been moved up to the intermediate grade for shearing shows, which start in May.

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