3rd April 2017
It was the point when Lisa said she could sell the horns off a Jacob ram for as much as prime lambs from her commercial flock that the selection panel sat up and realised this young shepherd really understood how to make the most from her various enterprises.
Lisa runs her own New Zealand Romneys, Lleyns and Jacobs alongside a full-time job on a large farming enterprise at West Harling, Norfolk. At work she manages 570 performance recorded Lleyns, as well as being involved in cattle work and a store lamb enterprise. She plans to keep on working for others, on a self-employed basis in time, while increasing her own sheep numbers to maximise sales of lamb boxes and finished stock, alongside Jacob horns, fleeces and skins.
Top fact: As Eastern Region Council member for the Jacob Sheep Society, Lisa has organised open days and regional events for the general public and fellow members. She hopes to use this experience to develop her role as an NSA Next Generation Ambassador.
This year I had a short break in between lambing my own sheep, three days away in Yorkshire for the first NSA Next Generation Ambassador delivery session. It was great to meet everyone and learn about what others in the group are doing in the sheep industry at the moment.
My ewes lambed well outdoors at the beginning of February, with only one snowy day to contend with and finished lambing just in time for lambing the Lleyn flock at work. All twins were lambed outdoors, with triplets and single bearing ewes housed next to each other for ease of management when it came to fostering lambs on to the single ewes.
Having previously only used teasers on the younger proportion of the ewes, we decided to run them across the whole flock this year. This resulted in the majority of the flock lambing in four days, which was busy with all the lambs tagged, weighed and tailed at less than a day old.
So far, the spring has been kind to us in East Anglia. The sun has been shining and the temperature has hit double figures most days so the grass is growing and the lambs are doing well. The lamb crop is very even and I'm looking forward to seeing growth rates when we gather them for their first vaccination in a few weeks’ time.
The Lleyn hogg flock at work should start to lamb 1st April for one cycle. There is 90 sets of twins scanned amongst them so they have been split to receive additional fed. The hoggs scanned as singles are in fantastic condition so I am trying to tighten up their grazing ahead of lambing. I really enjoy lambing ewe lambs and getting a lamb to sell from them later in the year, I also feel they make far better mothers in the long run this way and I particularly like seeing their maternal instinct kick in for the first time. My sheepdog Sal is also back to full speed again after rearing seven puppies. I bred from her as I wanted a bitch pup to keep back for myself, if the pup makes half the sheepdog her mother is then she will be a good one.
For the last few weeks I have been lambing the Lleyn hoggets at work. The hoggs with the highest EBV ranking were put to a Lleyn, while the remainder ran with Lleyn cross Easy Care rams. The weather has been excellent and lambing has gone well, with only a couple of cold days and the occasional sleet shower towards the end of April to contend with. Neighbouring arable farms have got their irrigation equipment out in force, a testament to just how dry in it in this part of the country at the moment.
With lambing just finishing at work, the forthcoming week will be spent vaccinating the late February and early March born lambs. They will also be weighed to get their eight-week weight before being treated against Orf and fly-strike. We regularly carry out fecal egg counts on all ewe and lamb groups to keep a check on any worm burden we may encounter. So far, all groups have come back under 175epg apart from one which consist of the triplet bearing ewes, these came back at just under 500epg.
With my own sheep, the Romney hoggs are lambing at the moment. I crossed them to my old Berrichon tup and I'm really impressed with the lambs so far, although I kept them fairly tight all winter the resulting lambs are a very good size and are giving birth unassisted.