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My Farming Week - Steve Oakley, Dorset

Steve Oakley farms with his wife on a county council holding near Shaftesbury.
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Steve Oakley
Steve Oakley

County farm: We moved to Drones Farm in April last year. It is a county council holding just south of Shaftesbury in Dorset. We run a flock of Pedigree Lleyn and Lleyn cross Texel ewes.

 

Lambing: Lambing is fast approaching now, ewes scanned okay at 175 per cent and look in good condition after a lot of autumn grass.

 

Luckily we are just starting out so we are understocked, which has helped a lot in the recent wet conditions, enabling us to move stock around regularly and therefore not damaging the ground too much.

 

Ewes: I usually tail ewes before tupping but, due to off-farm work, I did not have time last year so I have done them now with their pasteurella pneumonia booster. I have always been a fan of handling sheep as little as possible from tupping to lambing so this was a steady job and I did not upset them too much.

 

After advice from a few people I also did not tail too much between the legs to leave some udder protection in case cold winds cause mastitis after lambing.

 

The ewes have been outside with fodder beet and silage since before Christmas, except triplets which were housed soon after scanning. Lifeline buckets have just been put out now as well. They will probably be housed sooner rather than later due to the wet conditions and hopefully we will get a nice flush of early grass to put ewes and lambs out on.

 

Work: I have been quite lucky this past year with finding several good off-farm jobs which have kept me busy at times.

 

Finding enough work was always the worry with moving to a new area but, with some luck and some good contacts through Twitter and Facebook, we have done okay, although more work is always a help.

 

I would advise anyone in a similar situation to use social media as it gets you seen by a huge audience.

 

This coming year will see us expand our flock and hopefully find some extra grazing off-farm. We plan to reseed some ground to have a lamb fattening crop in autumn/winter.

 

So, I think it is still early enough for me to wish you all a Happy New Year and to thank the family and friends, new and old, who have helped us start out on this new adventure.


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