In this week’s Farmer’s Diary, Clodagh Hughes tells us about her first arrival of the 2022 lambing season and scanning results, which confirmed that five ewes are empty.
Well, now, where do I start, folks? After all my worrying last week about my ewes lambing while I was away on Thursday at exam and practical dairy skills day…what do you think happened?
Yup, you are right…nothing! I was tormenting myself unnecessarily.
As ‘sod’s law’ would have it, it was not until February 19th that my first lamb of 2022 was born.
And this was after doing two nights of lamb-watching. I am already sleep-deprived, and my lambing season has just begun!
Each year, it takes a couple of weeks to get your body clock tuned into the unnatural patterns and general disruptions that occur at this time of year.
It is trying to grab a few hours slumber here and there, not forgetting to eat, keep hydrated and stay warm and dry.
I know an awful lot of sheep farmers who are the same as myself and almost live in the lambing shed during this important time. And, to an outsider, it may seem a bit cracked what we sheep farmers do as part of our job.
But, ultimately, it is about maintaining a high level of animal welfare and also, being present to ensure as many new lambs survive as possible.
This is a business at the end of the day. Every live lamb is an asset to my farm, whether you are keeping them on as replacement breeding stock or, selling them at the mart.
There is an onus on us as keepers of livestock to be just that; keepers, it is our duty to provide them with their needs and wants throughout each season in the year.
We have chosen to modify sheep breeds to produce more milk, more lambs, and better meat.
So, in my opinion, the least we can do is ensure that each animal gets the best care and attention that is within our power to give as farmers.
I may have mentioned that my scanner-man would scan a few ewes that he had flagged as showing foetal anomalies at the first scan back in December!
Well, unfortunately, after a quick check last Tuesday, he was able to tell me that 5 of my ewes were empty. This was very disappointing news because I now have five fewer ewes to lamb, with a loss of what could have been an extra nine lambs for my flock.
I was doubly annoyed due to the fact that these same ewes all successfully lambed and reared at least one lamb each last year.
I have spoken with my vet. He suggested taking bloods from these sheep to test for any possible flock issues. It could also just be bad luck. But the responsible thing to do would be to test when I can.
I suppose I have to mention the recent stormy weather we are experiencing on our wee Island! Between torrential rains, hail, sleet, and real snow!
To arctic temperatures and windy gusts that would blow your eyelashes off, we have had it all this week. What fun!
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