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HomeFarming NewsFarmer’s Diary: Deciding against selling off 16 surplus lambs
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Farmer’s Diary: Deciding against selling off 16 surplus lambs

In this week’s Farmer’s Diary, sheep farmer, Clodagh Hughes, discusses feeding 16 surplus lambs,  the next phase of lambing 2021 and her flock vaccination programme.

I feel like I am just starting to wake up after a month of being in a really full-on dream zone!

Even though I have had a few full night’s sleep in a row, my body clock has not fully returned to its original settings before lambing started.

I awoke this morning at 2:30 and could not get back to sleep, so I went down to the shed with a night feed and checked on everyone, came back up wide awake and made soda bread…it was yum.

Feeding surplus lambs

Although all my ewes have lambed and the youngest bunch are now one-week-old, my work is still quite full-on as I have 16 surplus/pet lambs who, at this stage, I have trained to drink from a bucket feeder.

But even though they are all drinking ad-lib throughout the day, I must keep a close eye on a few of the smaller lambs who just cannot compete for their feed as easily as the bigger lambs.

It just means I am still very hands-on, and when I refill their bucket with milk, I take a couple of bottles to feed the smaller guys with.

Yes, it is time-consuming, but at least I know each lamb is getting its quota of milk, and they are thriving.

Other sheep farmers would sell off these surplus lambs as it is not viable for them to keep them. However, as I have said before, every set up is different, and it is all about finding the right fit.

Out in the fields, the grass has come on so well since I spread pig slurry a couple of weeks ago.

It is my first time using it, and I am really impressed with the results. It means I will not have to spend money on chemical fertilisers until later in the season.

Texel sheep, sheep farmer, sheep farming

Turning out to pasture

This brings me nicely onto the next phase of lambing 2021, and that is letting my ewes and lambs out to grass.

It has been a long, hard winter feeding-wise for me as I am a little short on ground space for my numbers.

However, I have sold off a few hoggets (year-old ewes) recently, and I have a few more to move soon.  This will take a bit of pressure off my grass and I.

It was a tough decision to make as I had hoped to keep more of these young sheep as replacements for my flock of breeding ewes.

However, as I keep reminding myself, this is ultimately a business I am trying to succeed in, and there are big girl decisions that need to be made.

It is getting easier to make these judgments. Plus, when the cheque comes, it will certainly soften the blow.

Vaccination programme

My next important job is to vaccinate all my lambs against several common diseases.

You have heard me mention Heptavac before. Well, at three-weeks-old, they can get their first dose, then 4-6 weeks later, their second.

At this rate, I will be way ahead of the Covid-19 vaccination programme!

 

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