Clodagh Hughes runs a sheep enterprise on the Monaghan/Louth border near Inniskeen; she is That’s Farming’s newest contributor and will provide an insight into her farm on a weekly basis.
After some much-needed rain, I can actually hear my grass growing, and it came just in time as my lambs are really starting to compete with the ewes out on pasture. You wouldn’t believe the size of some of them now!
I also got my sheep onto a new plot of fresh grass which is great, because now I don’t need to supplement their diet with sheep meal.
This means less workload for me and VERY importantly, less expense on my pocket!
At this point in my farming year, the busiest times have passed since lambing finished about 5 weeks ago and my lambs are really holding their own – even my wee surplus lambs are coming on a bundle.
All are still on milk, but I’ve cut their feedings to twice-a-day and aim to wean them off completely very soon.
You can wean hand-reared lambs off milk as soon as you’re happy they’re eating enough meal and grass and they reach a guideline weight of 15-20 Kgs and at least 35-days-old. Each farmer has their own system and you use which works best for you.
The next big job for me is shearing which is carried out annually and it’s quite a big undertaking.
I had a naïve notion when I started out “sure I’ve only a few sheep I’ll shear my own”. Yeah…let me tell you that notion didn’t last long. It’s a big job and I have a newfound respect for sheepshearers.
Some sheep will start to shed their fleece a little around this time of year and, apart from it being extremely warm and uncomfortable to be walking around in a pure wool onesie (can you just imagine!), we also shear for welfare reasons.
I’m sure you’ve noticed flies about, and where do they like to lay their eggs?
In warm, moist places… a sheep’s dirty woolly posterior, for example. If this gets out of control, the fly maggots will literally start eating the flesh of the sheep and they can die.
I had one case 2 years ago and fortunately, caught the sheep in time to treat her, it was a horrible ordeal.
Thankfully sheep shearing is recognised as an essential farming activity and I’m able to engage the services of my shearer while observing the current Covid restrictions. So, with this in mind, we’ll be fleecing my wee flock in 2/3 weeks’ time.
The before and after pictures are totally worth a look!!!
Another important job on my list is the second vaccination for the lambs which is due in the next few weeks, so all going to plan, I’ll do that when we have everyone gathered in for shearing.
In other news, my 7 new hens have really settled in and have started laying – they are a lovely addition to the wee farm, and I love eggs.