In this week’s Farmer’s Diary, Clodagh Hughes, sheep farmer, discusses the benefits of maintaining a closed flock policy and lambing 2022.
Apologies all, I am late with my ‘weekly’ diary entry. But, I think you will forgive me when you hear what I have been up to.
As I mentioned in my last article, my lambing season did not get off to a good start. And I have also suffered a few losses since I spoke to you last!
Unfortunately, these are all part of the ups and downs of sheep farming. As I have advanced in my farming career, I have noticed that I deal with these setbacks with less emotional stress than I did previously.
This by no means lessens every loss. They still hit me where it hurts and, I do not mean just my pocket!
But, I have learned to accept that, as long as I have done my absolute best, then I need to get on with those animals that need my attention.
So, in the spirit of staying positive, I shall not dwell any further on negativity.
What can I talk about then? Well, how about all the fabulous, healthy lambs that have been born in the last week/ten days!
Amidst the many sets of twins and singles, there have been three sets of triplets and a lovely set of quads, all of whom have survived and are thriving…be it with a little extra milk bottle-fed by this happy shepherdess.
As I continue with my goal to have my own closed flock (meaning; I breed and retain my best ewes and only buy in the rams as and when required), I can already see the benefits of this type of sheep enterprise and how much more confidence it gives me in the quality of sheep I am breeding.
It means I am really getting to know what type of sheep I have in my flock.
I know which ewes have what issues or quirks, and I also get to enjoy each sheep’s character.
As it is my fifth breeding year, I have started to see these benefits.
It is helping my confidence in myself as a sheep breeder to know that I am producing the best quality product that I can.
Back to lambing, though, I need to explain that having triplets and quads may sound great on the numbers side of things. However, it does mean a lot more work for me on the practical side.
More often than not, the ewe simply would not have enough colostrum to feed more than two lambs.
Therefore, I step in with either saved colostrum from a ewe with plenty or, I will use a good quality commercially available colostrum that is a must-have for any sheep farmer.
I currently have three lambs on the bottle. However, this is about to increase very soon due to a number of extra lambs born over the weekend.
I will be setting up an automatic bucket feeder to lessen my workload a bit.
Lastly, I am delighted to have successfully fostered a few lambs onto ewes that had one lamb. This is every shepherd’s dream.
I would like to go to sleep now…Zzzzzzz
See more of Clodagh’s sheep farming entries.