In this week’s Farmer’s Diary, Clodagh Hughes, sheep farmer, reflects on lambing 2022 as it comes to an end and discusses her plans for the weeks ahead.
St Paddy’s Day started off well with another set of healthy twin ram lambs.
I am coming near the end of my lambing for 2022 and, although the hardest part is almost over, the sleepless nights, the sore joints, the disappointing losses, coupled with the amazing highs that lambing does bring, my job as a sheep farmer is far from done.
The main priorities at lambing time are to; save as many lambs as possible and, to ensure my ewes are well cared for before, during and post lambing.
2022 lambing diary
Lamb fatalities occur mostly in the first 48 hours of lambing and, to get them up and suckling is absolutely imperative.
This does not mean you can become complacent. Unfortunately, there are several issues that can befall these young animals even after you feel sure that they’re out of the woods.
Conditions such as pneumonia and other respiratory problems, hypothermia, scouring and an amount of mysterious travesties that only sheep appear to know anything about because, sure as hell, we sheep farmers are at a total loss at times!
Not to mention the odd absolute disaster of a lamb being lain on by a ewe…and yes! This happened!
It has often been remarked to me, how sheep are not worth it; there is too much handling or hassle with them. They are only born to die and have similar silly remarks as these.
Now that I have a few years’ experience under my cap, I will admit that there are many times when I am left scratching the head under the said cap as to how and why certain things do occur with sheep and only sheep.
But this has not put me off in the slightest. If anything, it drives me on to improve my farming practices and learn all I can about these wee woolly wonders.
I also think I operate better in a slightly catastrophic environment…and where better to indulge myself than by becoming a sheep farmer.
But, to focus on the more positive side of sheep, there is not a day goes by that they do not make me laugh or teach me something about nature and patience.
Reflecting back on the last four weeks of lambing, I am very happy with the outcome so far.
I have seen great quality lambs being born and, I am delighted with my choices of home-bred ewes I kept as replacement breeding stock in the last number of years. It really is a great comfort to know your stock.
Grassland management and fencing
Other jobs that are coming up are grassland management and fencing. I am late this year booking my slurry spreading and, with the huge hikes in chemical fertilisers, there is a bigger than usual demand for organic fertiliser.
It is not the end of the world; it just means I will be a little later getting my ewes and lambs out on grass. Maybe no harm, as I can keep a closer eye on them until then,