Michael Burley

1st April 2022

March

Lambing is about to arrive in earnest here in sunny South Wales.... or at least we hope it will be. With 800 ewes all lambing outside from the 18th March, all the efforts to ensure the ewes are in optimum condition and the system is geared up to deliver this year's lamb crop are about to come to fruition.  

Our first Next Generation meeting was in February which was hugely successfully and I cannot wait for our next session in May. The real highlight was meeting like-minded people who want to strive to push the industry forward and excel in their own aspirations.

This winter has seen a lot of disruption to the normal Young Farmers winter programme with COVID infections peaking, but now thankfully, we have seen a drastic reduction in infection rates. This allowed our club, Maendy YFC, to compete in Glamorgan county's pantomime festival. Which we won! As a result, we will be heading to the NFYFC Finals at the end of April in Leamington Spa. A huge achievement for everyone involved and a chance to compete at the highest level within YFC.

Just over a fortnight ago, the Welsh Blood Service were taking donations at one of their regional hubs local to myself. I've been giving blood for several years and it's imperative that as many people do so. Donations are vital to helping the emergency services and for many other treatments, so with such great demand, 30 minutes once every 12 weeks doesn't seem unreasonable.

April

Lambing 2022 ended this week. I imagine like many other shepherds, the feeling of relief and satisfaction when the final ewe delivers the last of the season's lambs is second to none after many long weeks of very little sleep and hard work. We have been blessed with fantastic conditions for outdoor lambing, apart from a few wet and very cold days, it has stayed mostly dry throughout. However, the South Wales Valleys never cease to amaze me how we can experience every form of weather in a single day mind!

During the couple of days of sunny, warm weather, we did have a number of issues with members of the public chasing lambs in the fields in order to create social media content. Dogs walking off the lead and gates left open resulting in 40 of our yearling replacements wandering next to a busy main road was certainly not on the agenda during lambing. Safe to say, there is never a dull moment in farming, just dull people!

Performance recording has been at the forefront of our attempts to improve the profitability of our flock which is really starting to pay dividends with less assisted lambings and lower lamb mortality. Over the next few weeks, we will be bringing in around 1200 lambs for tailing and the ewes will be receiving a blowfly preventative ahead of shearing. Plenty of work for the Huntaway after a long rest during lambing!

As mentioned in last month's blog, our Young Farmer's club, Maendy YFC were fortunate to compete in the NFYFC pantomime finals. Squeezing in practices during lambing has been extremely challenging for everyone involved. It was however, undoubtedly worthwhile, with us winning the National Finals and bringing the trophy back home to Wales. An incredible achievement for all involved!

May

May has been an extremely busy month!

Firstly, all the ewes and lambs were gathered for tailing. Over the course of a week, the lambing fields were mobbed up and brought down to the sheds. A great job for the Huntaway after a quiet winter and lambing. Everyone was very pleased with the quality and number of lambs that came through the system.

Secondly, the cows were in full swing of calving which brought it' s own issues with regards to a few bad tempered cows at tagging. A few close calls and the decision has been made to not retain any of these for the next season. No cow is worth any injury. However, no assisted calvings, 2 sets of twins and with 94% calving in 8 weeks, the performance of the herd has been second to none.

Our ambassador group also met up for the second time this year. We travelled to Welshpool and what a fantastic few days we all had! To be around like minded people who strive to push the industry forward and learn from the best in the business on our farm and business tours really is inspiring.

Finally, the end of May is our YFC's county rally day. Our club, Maendy YFC, came second but came joint winners overall for the competing year. A great achievement for everyone involved!

June

June started off with a bang here in Wales! After winning our World Cup Qualifier, the national football team has earned their place in the finals tournament in Qatar. The last time we qualified was in 1958! Make no mistake, there was plenty of celebrating that weekend!

Back on the farm, all the lambs have received a pour on against flystrike, a yellow drench as per a faecal egg count test and a cobalt supplement. The yearlings have been sheared and the ewes will be clipped during the last week of the month. This has been a very busy few weeks for the dogs gathering the hills. For me, this is the highlight of all the farm work. You just can't beat working dogs and gathering big mobs of sheep across the mountains. There is no better office view!

July

July saw all the ewes gathered for shearing and the first lot of fit lambs sold into Raglan market. Hopefully the price holds through the next few months as the markets see a larger throughput leading into the autumn.

We bought a new Limousin bull from a friend I went to university with to go with our Hereford heifers and some surplus Welsh Black cows that we don't require replacements from. The last of our hay and haylage has all been baled to fulfil the livery yard orders for the winter.

Two trips to Cornwall for a stag duo and the wedding of friends from my University days saw some well earned time away from the farm in addition to the return of the Royal Welsh Show. A very busy month of catching up with friends.