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‘I am afraid the vets is going to be my last port of call with this lamb’

In this week’s Farmer’s Diary, sheep farmer, Clodagh Hughes, discusses turning ewes out to pasture, swayback in a lamb, and her college student’s placement experience so far.  

I know I keep saying it but, what a difference a week can make! Not only has my grass sprung out of the ground, but I have finally gotten my ewes and lambs out to pasture full-time.

There is a bit of very cold weather forecast for the Easter weekend so, I may give them access to the shed for a few days.

However, they have very good shelter in the field as mature blackthorn hedges surround it. Besides, they all have good woolly jumpers on, even the wee lambs at this stage.

Swayback in a lamb

Unfortunately, disappointment is never far away, and in the last few days, I noticed one of my surplus lambs struggling to use his hind legs. Furthermore, he has gotten progressively worse.

He has developed a condition called swayback; there are two types of this disease, congenital swayback, and delayed-onset swayback.

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It can occur due to copper deficiency in the diet. The first type is evident at birth, and the second can be detected in older lambs.

Now, I am not one to avoid the vets. I did ask an experienced sheep farmer about this but, sometimes you just know what you’re dealing with.

I am afraid the vets is going to be my last port of call with this wee lamb. It is simply cruel to keep him as he is unable to walk and toilet normally.

sheep farmer, sheep farming, farm girls, lamb,


If you recall, I mentioned a few weeks ago that a young woman, who is studying agricultural science in Letterkenny, County Donegal, approached me about work placement.

She needed to secure a 6-week placement, and with Covid-19 restrictions in place, it was proving difficult for her to find one.

Her name is Laura, and she lives locally. She is from a dairy farming background, and almost immediately, I knew that this lassie had a good head on her.

She can see beyond the task at hand and anticipate the next situation without too much prompting, which is a great help and an invaluable skill, in my opinion.

Laura is also great craic, which is a bonus, especially these times when we are all a bit fed up. It is interesting to see the world through the eyes of a 20-year-old and get to hear some of their experiences.

Laura, farm girl, sheep farming, sheep farmer

It has opened my eyes to how tough the younger generation has it with the extra stresses of studying away from college, staying motivated, keeping up with your friends, and no part-time work to earn a bob.

I honestly did not think I would have enough work to occupy us both, but I have been very glad of her help.

We have managed to get lots of jobs done between us on top of the daily feeds and chores. There were a few occasions where I could not have managed without her help.

If anything, it has shown me how much I do on my little farm (I am just brilliant, aren’t I!) and to never refuse help when offered!

Happy Easter, folks!

Sheep farming

You can read more of this sheep farmer’s diary entries.

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