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My Farming Week: Thomas Gibson, County Antrim

Thomas Gibson farms 250 Lanark Blackface ewes in Broughshane, Co Antrim, on a hill farm more than 274 metres (900ft) above sea level. He also carries out contract shearing.

Lambing: Like any farmer, I must first comment on the brilliant weather we are getting for our outdoor lambing and, after a terrible wet winter, things seem to be looking better with good grass growth on our lower ground.


We have all our triplets and single lambs inside and I am keeping all twins outside.


We have been lambing for a few weeks now and it is great to see how new tups bought last year are breeding.


We tried a Vendeen tup for the first time and are very pleased with their vigour at birth.


Prolapse: We had five very troublesome days before lambing, with prolapsed ewes and premature lambs this year.


Ewes which were prolapsing were all in different body conditions and were not gorging themselves on silage or grass.


I do not know what was causing the problems, but thankfully, they have settled down now.


As well as dealing with my own sheep, I work for my father, who has 400 cross-bred ewes and 50 Stabiliser/Salers cows.


Brexit: With the possibility of the EU vote resulting in Brexit, most farmers, after they comment about the weather, are wondering how Northern Ireland will fare if it is a ‘yes’ vote.


It will affect us quite drastically, as buyers from the Republic of Ireland are present at markets here every week buying fat lambs and many lamb producer groups are sending loads down every week too.


BPS: A big congratulations to the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, which has finally issued me with my BPS payment.


After reams of paperwork, a surprise inspection and hours of phone calls, they have finally got around to clicking the magic button and transferring the money into my account.


It is discouraging for young people who are busy trying to establish a business starting with very little and trying to buy things, only to have these payments delayed and having on-the-spot inspections.


I have been accepted into a Business Development Group and I am looking forward to meeting with the other 20 sheep farmers throughout the year to discuss our different business ideas.

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