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Farmer’s Diary: Fly season really takes wings

In this week’s Farmer’s Diary, sheep farmer, Clodagh Hughes, discusses fly season and topping.

As I headed into this week, I had a very clear plan of what I was going to do, and in what order, I was going to do it.

I even made a list; I love making lists.  The only thing I love more than making lists is ticking things I have completed off my list.

Needless to say, this list is now defunct. Certain things that were out of my control contributed to this breakdown.

Fly season

One major issue was the lack of availability of a specific pour-on product I want to use to help prevent fly-strike in my sheep.

It is proving impossible to source locally and, as I need to apply it now, I had to buy an alternative product.

Although not dissimilar in its nature, you always feel a little uncertain when changing from a tried and tested product.

But to be honest, as the saying goes, “needs must”, and I’ll have to be extra vigilant for the next few weeks as fly season really takes wings…see what I did there!                                                                                                                                    I know it is not a life or death situation, but a lot of these products are expensive. Along with the time and labour involved in gathering in livestock and treating them, you want to have every confidence in the merchandise you are using.

In more progressive farm news, I am abundantly happy with how my lambs are thriving since weaning time.

My ewes have all got past the initial mastitis risk stage as their milk production has slowed down significantly, and all udders and teats are looking in good condition.

Bar a couple of my girls, everyone is in great condition, considering they have spent the last 3/4 months rearing at least two lambs each, and a number of them gave birth to triplets or quads in March.

So, with a good 8 or 9 weeks until tupping, they have plenty of time to put on some extra body condition and enjoy the summer.

Grass topping

Another overdue job was topping the fields.  This is done to keep longer grass that gets a bit out of hand under control and allows shorter grass swards to capitalise on the sun and moisture for growth.

Also, because sheep graze closer than cattle or horses, it is necessary to keep grass at a shorter length for them to graze efficiently.

I am lucky my father still has his tractor and topper because I cannot buy such large farm items. My husband loves a bit of tractor work, too, so it is a bit of a win-win for me!

Of course, I did have a go, and it is trickier than it looks, guys, especially along the fences and hedges.

Because you see, the topper works from the side of the tractor, and if one forgets that this is the case, one could very easily take out a gate post or get stuck in the fence.

I must stress that neither of these things happened, but there were some damn close calls.

Read more of Clodagh’s updates.

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