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Rachel Lewis-Davies: In the thick of lambing, but fox predation proving a big problem

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Lambing is continuing at a hectic pace for the family, but there are plenty of other tasks on the go too.
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Questioning the wisdom of #lambing Charollais ewes outside at 1200ft in driving winds and rain....

It’s a rather rushed contribution this month as we’re in the thick of lambing. The ewes lambing to the Charollais tups are coming to an end and the weather, lack of grass coupled with the fact that they are older ewes means that it has been a tough few weeks. While we housed the twins we have questioned, on more than one occasion recently, the wisdom of trying to lamb Charollais out at 365m (1,200ft) in March in driving winds and rain!

 

The lack of grass means we have been transporting ewes and lambs over to Spite Inn where the new leys have resulted in plenty of grass. As well as plenty of grass there has also been plenty of predation and, depressingly, we seem to have a fox taking a twin most nights.


The hill ewes have kicked off in the last few days. Lambing on roots they are in good condition and thus far it has proved a more straightforward prospect – not least because the weather has improved. There are a few more twins in the hill ewes than expected and we’re needing to keep a close eye on them as one to two of the lambs are coming a bit big.

 

With the boys at home over Easter we’ve had an additional workforce freeing up Bob to put some fertiliser out at Yscoedreddfyn. We’ve also completed 900m of double fencing and hedge planting as part of the £6m Nature Fund Coed Cymru project. The ridiculous rules on trees in the Basic Payment Scheme means that overall tree planting is going to be a big NO going forward. Bobby is increasingly frustrated at the apparent mixed messages from government but was keen to get involved in this project because of the clear benefits. In the short-term we get blocks split into fields and in the long-term much needed shelter.

 

The long-awaited proposals for the Basic Payment Scheme in Wales have been published recently and the document does take a bit of following I have to say. Inevitably, every farmer in Wales will judge each of the options from their own perspective. Given recent events it would probably be unhelpful for me to wade into the debate at this stage - suffice to say, given our financial exposure we are feeling under tremendous strain.

 

Rachel Lewis-Davies, Powys

Rachel and her husband Bob, farm Yscoedreddfyn, near Brecon, Mid Wales. They bought the 109ha (270-acre) farm, which rises to 400m (1, 300ft) with common rights on Mynydd Bach Trecastle and rent a 45ha (110-acre) hill farm with grazing rights on a local MoD range. They farm 950 ewes, mainly Epynt Hardy Speckled.

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