Winter 2013

Like others the weather impact over the last 9 months certainly impacted the finishing of our fat lambs this year. The last of which went by the second week of February – effectively two months later than any other year, even though for the last 6 weeks they were on haylage and concentrates. With lamb prices well back on the last few years, this was not good news. We never normally have to use concentrates. To be fair the vast bulk of the fat lambs went in the autumn before the price decline.

At scanning the 330 pure bred Lleyns and my wife’s 22 Jacobs came in with 197% and 215% respectively over a tight 2 cycles. The ewes were in good condition, which with the weather we have had was not what I was expecting. Interestingly this year all ewes and rams were drenched one month prior to tupping with a mineral / vitamin product from JG Animal Health ( It appears to have reduced the barrens from a normal average of 3% or 4% to under 1.3%. I know that various trace elements impact fertility so I will need to do some soil testing this summer. We again drenched the ewes when they were Heptovaxed. This year I will experiment with not offering ad lib licks. It will be interested to see the results! I have always been nervous of the impact at lambing of some ewes stationing themselves strategically between the haylage bales and the lick buckets.

We housed this year at the end of January to protect the fields as much as possible. The haylage analysis, to my surprise, came out with protein at 13.5% and ME of 11%. It comes from good clover leys and we did have a bit of sun, but….

Lambing starts March 15th. The 2 very good vet students from Edinburgh University who helped last year will again be with us this year for 2 weeks, plus a 3rd who starts after they go. Just as well this year as my wife has just slipped a disk and will be out of action, although the students don’t start until after the first week. Last year we had lambed 1/3 of the flock in the first week, and 85% in the first cycle.

Like every other shepherd at lambing this year, we will be nervously watching to see the impact of the Schmallenberg virus. As we all move into the post lambing analysis stage, it will be interesting to see what the variables have been. It is believed that date of tupping is a key factor, but could there also be variance by breed? We need to encourage our vets to collect as much data as possible. Some breeds like the Lleyn do appear to have higher resistances to things like worm and foot-rot than others. We all need to know if there is a statistical difference for this virus. (Are any Universities reading this blog?!)

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