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Diary: Lambing may be over, but the work is not

This week marked the end of lambing 2022 for Clodagh Hughes. In this week’s sheep update, she reflects on the season and the experience she has gained in this field in recent years.

I cannot believe that, as I write this week’s entry, my lambing for 2022 is officially over, as of two nights ago.

I had a welcomed wee break between the last few ewes to lamb, which, meant I caught up on some much-needed sleep and was able to update some of my farm records.

During the heady weeks of lambing, simple tasks such as counting and note-taking become huge jobs that I tend to leave until everything has calmed down and I can focus on recording births, deaths, ewes with any issues and so on.

These records are a tool in helping a farmer plan for the next breeding and lambing seasons.

They also provide me with a good indication of where I may have gone wrong myself as well as noting down positive actions and lessons learned.

Overall, looking back on the last five weeks or so, I am very happy with both my sheep and my performance this year. Nothing beats experience and practical hands-on-the job work.

I had remarked to myself how, last year, I had thought lambing had gone well, but, in comparison to this year’s event, it was not as good as I thought.

Experience 

And I can only put this down to all I have learned in the few years I have been lambing by myself, reading good shepherd books, and speaking with dedicated older and much more experienced sheep farmers.

I genuinely felt more relaxed and less anxious during any difficult lambing situations this year.

I was confidently able to lamb a few of my ewes, that were carrying 3 and 4 lambs, where the lambs were coming 2 or 3 at a time through the birth canal.

Simply by being patient, gentle and using any knowledge gained from lambing with my vets previously on the farm.

I only had to call my vet out twice, and, these were serious instances where only a vet will do.

Unfortunately, I suffered a few losses because of unforeseen complications and, as we all accept by now, the inevitable losses you incur as a sheep farmer, or any livestock farmer for that matter.

Turn-out and post-lambing care 

But, as I say, overall, a good lambing season for 2022 and just yesterday evening, I got all my lovely new, healthy lambs and their brilliant mother ewes out onto fresh spring grass.

It is one of the best feelings, folks and already my workload has lessened as I would need to feed my ewes as much meal or hay as good grass is a great natural provider of nutrition.

And, in case you did not know, from a week old or even sooner, the lambs start to nibble hay, grass and specially formulated lamb feed that starts their amazing ruminant stomach to develop in preparation for when their mothers wean them off milk in a few months.

Some of them are even chewing the cud already! It is very cute to see their wee mouths chewing away.

So, although that is the toughest part over, I am still plenty busy with them.

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