Blog: Jamie Laurie
1st March 2016
Jamie Laurie (22) is an NSA Next Generation Ambassador 2016 from Lockerbie. There is no chance of resting on your laurels when Jamie is around! Both his NSA Next Generation Ambassador application and his subsequent interview were littered with an endless list of plans for the family farm at Lockerbie.
He is a partner with his parents on the tenanted farm and continually ‘convincing dad’ of potential improvements with the 1,400 sheep and 130 sucklers. The breeding is predominantly South Country Cheviot, Easycare and (decreasingly) Highlander. Some Cheviots Mules are produced for sale as breeding females and other Texel cross progeny sold finished or as stores.
Jamie would like to move to more of a closed flock and is already breeding his own Bluefaced Leicesters. He would also like to use more Shetland ewes. “I got the Bluefaced Leicesters when I was 10, after telling my dad we should be breeding our own tups,” he says. “This has proved successful, as the homebred tups last far longer. The Shetlands were also to convince my dad, as I am a firm believer in a small, efficient ewe (or cow) producing more output per acre. I am now convinced the Shetlands are the way to go – although they’re not perfect, yet.”
Top fact: It’s not all about Jamie telling his dad what to do! He says advice that came from his father (that ‘knowledge is light to carry’) drives him to always keep learning and taking opportunities.
Scroll down for entries from Jamie about his farming year so far in 2016.
On Sunday (21st February) I made my way to NSA HQ in Malvern, Worcestershire for the first of this year's NSA Ambassador delivery sessions. It was great to meet the other NSA Ambassadors and get to the chance to hear about each other's farms. We are such a varied group, with different backgrounds, a huge number of breeds between us, and are farming very different systems in very different ways. Yet, we are all united by our passion for farming sheep, and our desire to further our businesses and flocks. During the sessions, we learned about the numbers involved in the sheep industry, both here in the United Kingdom and the rest if the world. The rest of the day was spent learning about estimated breeding values and recording, followed by a session on body condition scoring and a very informative talk on sheep health the next day.
Back at home, we are busy spreading slurry as it’s the first opportunity we have had. The sheep have all been scanned, with most beginning to get some supplementary feed. We will be giving them a jab against clostridial diseases this week.
It's now just over a month since the first NSA Next Generation session, and the in-bye ewes are now just over a week from starting lambing. I'm a bit worried as there still isn't any grass for them and they are struggling. Next week they will be in to get fluked and wormed, before being split into the lambing fields. Calving too is going okay, and we’re about two thirds of the way through.
Well my daffodils are coming out! It is Monday 18th April and the inbye lambing is beginning to slow down. The ewes are lean and this has resulted in problems. Gimmers short of milk and ewes thinking that one lamb will be enough for them to look after this year! This means my pet lamb pen has been a lot fuller than I would have liked it to be. The weather has not been too bad, but hasn't been that great either and we could do with things warming up to get some grass growing. The hill ewes have started lambing and the hoggs are about to start any time now. We are sending 60 store cattle to Lockerbie tomorrow so things have been a bit busy lambing and getting them ready.
Well not much has changed since my last blog, apart from there being a few more lambs running around. The inbye ewes and hill ewes are almost finished, while the first lot of hoggs have just finished their first cycle and the other lot are about to start any day now. I've never had as many pet lambs as this before, as the last few years we haven't had any left at the end of lambing but I doubt that will happen this time as there are 33 now. The weather has been good, making lambing the hoggs easy, but a very strong North East wind is stopping the grass from getting started. It's also holding us back with slurry and getting fertiliser on. Hopefully we can stop feeding the ewes soon and will be able to get the cows out before too long.
Since I last wrote my blog, we have moved from spring into summer. We got the cows out at the end of May and after a count up of all the lambs I think it’s been a success overall. Some groups did better than others but I think at this stage we have much the same number of lambs on the ground as usual. Clipping has just begun to get underway on the farm now, and we’ve managed to get the hoggs and tups done so far, we’ve made a start on the ewes too but they aren't easy going yet so it’ll be a few weeks before they’re finished. I would like to get started on first cut as soon as the weather improves, so here’s hoping for a dry few weeks.
I also got chance to get to NSA Scot Sheep on 1st June which was great, but unfortunately I didn't manage to get around and see everything I wanted on the day, since the show seems to keep getting bigger each year!
As summer comes to an end, the leaves have begun to fall and we have finally finished the first cut of silage without any major breakdowns, it was just the weather was holding us back.
We have the inbye ewes spained now and have sold most of the lambs store. This the first time we have sold so many as early as this, but with silage being late and second fields shut off for second cut, we have decided to clear them out and let the cows into the fields. The inbye lambs have been disappointing this year and the ewes are a bit lean too. Oddly it is the sheep on reseeded fields that have done worst, we have sent blood samples off and are waiting for results.
We’ve also been busy making hay, as it seems everyone else has too. Next week is the Cheviot mule ewe lamb sale so we will be getting ready for that, although many won't do to sell as they scoured when they got on to the aftermaths. With the lamb price where it is, I'm hoping for high breeding sheep prices.
Since my last blog, we've been getting ready for winter. We have sold a lot of lambs as early store this year. I’m yet to decide if it's been the best decision yet but we seem to have lots of grass about at the moment so I’m starting to think we might have sold a few too many.
We got the second cut silage for the sheep done at the end of August. It should be really good stuff and wasn't far off being hay, it was just a bit unfortunate it wasn't a very big crop. We are going through the ewes again now getting ready for tupping time and we will soon be going through the hoggs to decide what to keep, we are going to be especially hard on them this year to reduce numbers slightly. We’ve treated the ewes against liver fluke and the gimmers will be vaccinated against enzootic abortion and will be doing the same with the hoggs we decide to keep as well as vaccinating them against pasteurella and clostridial diseases.
Right now we are catching up with maintenance jobs. Doing some draining to try and reduce some the risk of a fluke burden. I'm getting the shed fixed up ready for the cows to come in shortly, a wooden kennel shed that's been up 45 years, so takes a lot of sorting.
We are also only now getting around to fixing some of the damage from last winter’s floods, one thing being a bridge that was washed out. This afternoons job is clipping out 220 lambs ready to go to Dunbia, which will be our last lot of lambs to go this year. Even though we have had such a good spell of weather recently, the grass has stopped growing and seems to be running out fast!
We’ve now set away the last of our lambs this year which didn't do too badly considering a lot were lighter lambs. I think I do get on better selling liveweight though and I think I’ll be doing this from now on.
The ewes are in good order. They are getting a fluke dose just before the tups go out. The Bluefaced Leicesters went out to the inbye Cheviots on the 7th of November and the Texels to the Highlanders on 13th. We have the results now for the igA testing and I am in the process of doing the individual faecal egg testing for the Easycare hoggs and I'll do the Shetland and Easycare tups too.
The cows are all in now and in very good condition again this year. They’ve all been scanned which saw a mixed result, with the highest number coming back barren than I've seen here for a long time. The herd has become a lot younger this year as a result as we had already had a bit of a clear out of the older ones.
About to take part in my final NSA Next Generation delivery session, I have thoroughly enjoyed my time in the group and look forward to putting all I have learned into practice.