Beth Phalp

31st March 2022

March

As calving time is nearing an end, with around 15 cows left to calve we are now preparing to start drilling the spring barley and oats, following on from the stubble turnips and wintered stubble. 

We are also gearing up to make room in the sheds for the majority of the ewes to be housed in the next 10 days ready for their due date on the 1st April. We find the two/three weeks before due date to be the most nerve-wracking in many ways! It’s always a relief when you get the first few healthy lambs born. 

A very busy April approaches us, with 600 ewes hopefully set to lamb in a two week period, all being well! This year we aim to record our lambing data/figures in more detail with a new stock recording programme, such as tagging lambs at a couple of days old so they can be linked to their mother, the ease of lambing and any issues. Hopefully making for a more efficient flock in future years. 

This year we bought 50 in lamb cheviots which have caused a few problems in the last week when housed due to going down with hypocalcemia. Thankfully, so far, they have all responded quickly to treatment with calcium and glucose, but we have had to check them frequently for early intervention. We have kept them on a separate yard to the rest of the flock, to minimise any risks of abortion, fluke, iceberg diseases etc being passed to our main flock. Although we had been advised in our flock health plan and regular chats with our vet of precautions that should be taken buying ewes in, my knowledge of such problems was massively broadened during our recent first NSA meeting from Philippa Page’s talks.  

I found the first NSA Next Generation meeting very interesting, informative and enjoyable. I came back to the farm with lots of ideas of how to improve our system and tips for lambing time, including maximising productivity and flock health.  In addition to meeting a great group of like-minded young farmers! 

Away from the farm, In addition to the NSA meeting, I was also fortunate to attend the NFU conference in February as an NFU North East young farmer ambassador. This was very interesting and worrying at the same time, with speakers discussing some of the challenges the farming sector is facing in the coming years, but reaffirming the importance of making our businesses resilient. 

April

Lambing 2022 is nearing the end for us with around 35 ewes left to lamb. It has been a busy 3 weeks, lambing 600 ewes indoors.The shearlings have kept us on our toes this year and have been slightly disappointing compared to other years with several having one large lamb and one smaller lamb, leading to longer time in the pens and a few cases of mis-mothering when out in the field. Something we will be looking into with our flock health vet in the coming weeks. However, on the whole, we have had a successful lambing time and I am excited about the strong pure cheviot gimmers we have had born. We are also quite proud to be finishing lambing with only two pet lambs, a record for us, we have managed to adopt triplets on to singles successfully! Meaning the majority of ewes have turned out to grass with two lambs each.

We were slightly apprehensive this year with the absence of Spectam, although we have been wanting to cut down on our usage (after our vet informed us we were the third largest user's of spectam in the practice last year!!) the stop in production has forced our hand. We have been very conscious of keeping pens extra clean and ensuring all lambs had good quality colostrum as early as possible. After the last NSA meeting I ordered a BRIX refractometer after learning about the differences in colostrum quality and was pleasantly surprised all the ewes I tested had good quality colostrum. Thankfully our concerns were rectified with very few cases of watery mouth, proving we don't actually need Spectam!

Once I have caught up on a little sleep I will be looking into the data we have recorded from lambing time and continue to monitor the lambs progress as we move towards heptavacing in a few weeks time. I am very much looking forwards to the next NSA trip to Wales next month.