Will Case: 'The sheep are thriving on the rotation and grass quality is excellent'

livestockfarm lifesheepGrassland+-

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 freerange laying hens and 100 dairy cows milked by robots.


As I write we are experiencing our first rain since Easter. We are not really used to dust in Cumbria and this drop of light rain has dampened things down. A few days rain would be helpful, but we hope it remembers to stop again. The sunny conditions were tempting us to take our earliest ever first cut of silage.


After getting fired up for a start, Simon walked the crop and it was not as heavy as he had hoped, so, rightly or wrongly, we decided to wait for some rain to stimulate growth. If we have got our silage by the time you read this, the gamble will have paid off.


If not, we will be pacing up and down while searching for a weather forecast we like the look of. Sheep work has been keeping us busy, with all ewes tailed out and lambs wormed and marked. Our lambs are in terrific condition and I am sure the lovely dry weather has helped no end.


Grass growth is slow but with swards short and the sun in the sky, quality must be good. I have been rotationally grazing our early ewes with seven-day shifts over three paddocks after seeing how well the system is performing for friends. Many principles from my time in New Zealand are coming back to me after the endless wet summers and El Nino which dampened my enthusiasm.


The sheep are thriving on the rotation and grass quality is excellent. I am still offering a little creep feed to the early lambs as it makes sense to aim for the early market premium and with those lambs out of the way there is more grass for everything else. I like to think of it as rotation plus.


The older group of Texel lambs had their eight-week weights taken and I have been really pleased with them. The biggest lamb was 42.5kg and there were plenty weighing more than 35kg. These are the heaviest I have had and we are seeing annual improvement. The good weather and genetics are working well for us this year.


Campaigning for the General Election is now underway and I have hardly heard a mention about farming policy from any of the main political parties. With a new UK farm policy having to be formed, I hope our political masters are willing to listen to the industry to create a vison for UK agriculture which we can all get behind. This might be a good time to bend your local MP’s ear.

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