In this week’s Sheep Farming Diary, Clodagh Hughes, discusses farm tasks, lambing 2022 and plans to slash/reduce her winter fodder bill.
This time of year, on-farm, my chores predominantly entail running around after my sheep, young and old, making sure they have all their needs attended to.
This involves; feeding meal rations twice daily to any lambs I am finishing for sales, giving a small maintenance ration to my replacement ewe lambs and, of course, old Gorsey the horsey, is getting a small feed of horse meal to keep his old bones warm.
Sheep farming diary
Also, I need to top up one hay rack with the ram lambs.
I have them on low grazing pasture near the house for ease of feeding and to keep an eye on their progress, considering I had such a difficult time with them over the last couple of months.
Although I have gained more grazing ground this year, I have had to close off a few fields due to spreading pig slurry and old farmyard manure out on them.
This will aid with next spring’s grass growth by replacing important nutrients to the soil after a long grazing season.
It is no addition having extra ground and not looking after it.
The muck spreading will ensure that when the spring grass season kicks off, I will have plenty of good quality grass to get my ewes and their young lambs out on (weather permitting, of course!), giving them the best start.
My goals are to significantly reduce, if not cut out altogether, feeding extra fodder in winter, except for my breeding ewes when housed for lambing.
This will benefit me twofold; less money spent on buying/making hay and straw and less manual labour required to handle it.
With the dark evenings well and truly settled in at this stage, it’s hard not to think about the long days and nights ahead of me for lambing 2022, which, all going to plan, is set to kick off in the last week of February.
And I know; it seems like ages away but, with the weeks flying by at a frightening turn of speed, it will be upon me before I know it.
At the back of my mind, there are certain jobs I could carry out well in advance of lambing.
For example, due to the atrocious price of wool recently, I am storing my last two clippings, and a friend’s in one of my father’s sheds in the hope that prices may improve.
I also need to buy a few more hurdles and meal troughs for indoor feeding during lambing.
I made a mental checklist of what lambing equipment I have and what I will need for February.
Honestly, I was pleasantly surprised by how much gear I have accumulated since my first lambing in 2018. I have always looked after my stuff so; it is all in good condition.
My biggest expenditure is on milk replacer when rearing surplus lambs. This is an area I need to become more efficient in, or else; it is not worth the effort and money.
See more of Clodagh’s sheep farming diaries.