When writing last month, listening as the rain lashed down, I was expecting a long winter. Thankfully though, the weather Gods seem to have had a sudden change of heart and the last few weeks have been as pleasant as you could wish for. With warm temperatures and very little rain, grass has grown steadily, drains have caught up and both man and beast have breathed a sigh of relief.
The good weather seems to have lifted the mood among the sheep. A bit of sun has raised the levels of lust and sheep are at last tupping at a pace. Early ewes are finished and the main groups are making good progress.
I am experimenting with breeding a few more of our own replacements and have sorted a group of 100 of our home-bred Texel cross females to run with a Llyen and New Zealand Romney tup. All the females lambed as hoggets or reared triplets last season.
The Romney has been selected for his worm resistance as visually he is not my cup of tea and the Llyen is long and very correct. I am hoping the outcome will be some maternal white females which are easy fleshing and prolific.
Having more control over flock replacement females, and even having a closed flock is appealing, but the bought-in North of England Mules have always served us well. Going forward, my gut feeling is we will not over commit to either regime and react to the market, but it is interesting to experiment.
Our Salers cows and heifers have been scanned this month. The cows have been bulled by the Charolais and the heifers put to the Salers bull. It was pleasing some of the late-calving cows have shortened their calving interval, with 18 out of 20 cows in-calf. Five out of 25 heifers were empty, however, so we have changed bulls and crossed our fingers. Any which are empty on the next scan will not get a second chance.
We have depleted a flock of hens this month, with older birds in house two reaching the end of the road. They have been an excellent flock with good egg size and quality right to the end. The team of eastern Europeans which came to catch the birds did a good job. Skillful workers like them will still be much needed whatever the outcome of Brexit.
And on that subject, I hope everyone in and around farming is doing all they can to press upon their local politicians the importance of single market access to farming.
Right, the next couple of weeks will have some ’character building’ days on the power washer. I better get on.