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‘In the case of sheep…bigger is better, if you want to make a living from it’

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.

Another week has passed and, although lambing is done and dusted for 2020, life on my wee farm is still busy and there are always jobs to be done.

The next big job for me is shearing and, with the persistent warm weather, it can’t happen soon enough as my sheep are really starting to feel the heat. Some of them have even taken to shedding their own fleece!

I’m lucky to have engaged the services of a lovely shearer from Leitrim, John O Neill, who does some work up my way this time of year. I’d like to thank the Irish Sheep Shearers Association for putting me in touch with him.

Flock size

Something I didn’t realise when I started my flock was how a lot of aspects of sheep farming are orientated towards larger flocks, and having a smaller flock can sometimes put you at a slight disadvantage – with regards to buying some sheep products and services.

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For example, the smallest volume an important vaccination I use comes in is 25 doses and it’s expensive. A couple of years back, I would have to throw out what I didn’t use unless I could share it with a fellow farmer. Now I have the need for larger volumes.

I totally understand this, as most sheep farmers own in the 100’s to 1000’s of sheep and it just doesn’t pay in the long run to produce small quantities. In the case of sheep…bigger is better, if you want to make a living from it.

I’m happy to be at a stage now where I have enough sheep to better utilise most of the products I need on my farm but really, after much thought on the matter, the only sensible solution is to get more sheep, am I right guys? Haha… don’t try and stop me now!


With little to no rain in the northeast of Ireland recently, the fertiliser I spread over 5 weeks ago hardly made any impact on the ground and grass growth has been very slow.

On the advice of a great grassman, Joe Butler of Dooley’s Agri in Inniskeen, I spread more last week and the bit of rain has kick-started the grass at long last.

My 14 surplus lambs are old enough and eating sufficient quantities of meal and grass to let me cut out their milk altogether. As delightful as some of you might think hand-rearing lambs can be, boy is it great not to be mixing up buckets of milk throughout the day and cleaning feeders.

Also, you really need to keep a close eye on them as this is stressful on the lambs. I’ll be a happy farmer when they are fully vaccinated.

Till next week…bye-bye.

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