3rd April 2017
Having returned to the family farm in recent years, Nicola has gone into partnership with her father and is breathing new life into the 600-ewe sheep flock near Talgarth, Brecon.
She is in the process of rejuvenating the soils and grassland, allowing her to keep more replacements each year and grow numbers. Keen to run a bigger and more profitable flock, Nicola says she applied for the NSA Ambassador programme to learn new skills and ensure she doesn’t take her eye off the ball, as it is attention to the finer detail that will ensure a positive future in a post-Brexit world with no guaranteed farm support payments, she says.
Top fact: When asked by the selection panel if she thought there were equal opportunities for females in agriculture, Nicola spoke passionately about the need for more role models. “There are opportunities but it is daunting to go for them when all you see around you is males,” she said. “We need to give girls the confidence to get out there.”
With spring just around the corner, its nice to have finished lambing the first bunch of ewes. The weather has been spot on to turn them straight out to grass, we’ll wait another week or so before turn the ewes and lambs back on to the swedes when the lambs are strong enough.
I have heard whispers of cases of Schmallenberg amongst the early lambing flocks but luckily, we have managed to escape it. It hasn’t been without a few casualties though and we’ve had a 9% loss since scanning in the first bunch.
Now the focus is to get the sheds cleaned out, disinfected and ready for the main flock which will lamb mid-March. The ewes are looking well and the weather has been kind enough that we’ve been able to graze them on the swedes right up until now. This has been the highest scanning I have ever had in this bunch at 189%, but I always like a challenge. My Dutch vet students arrive on 15th March and I can’t wait to have this dream team back for another year. Their hard work, energy and enthusiasm is a joy to have around and I would hate to think of a lambing season without them now.
What a brilliant start of Summer its been. Some lovely weather has pushed lamb growth on and there has been a terrific lamb trade to top it off. With 50 lambs left to sell from our February lambing bunch of ewes, it was nice to get them weaned last week and hopefully push them on and get them off the farm within the next three weeks. It’s certainly been cost effective to creep them this year, however I will not miss hauling the bags out to them when these last 50 have gone!
We’ll aim to sell the March born lambs off grass so we’ve been trying to keep good forage in front of the them and it won’t be long before we’re pulling from those bunches. The lack of rain recently is starting to become more evident though and grass growth is slowing.
All lambs have had their first drench against nematodirus, their top up clostridial vaccine and an orf vaccination. We seem to have a few more cases of orf this year than normal, which has sadly led on to a couple more cases of mastitis in the ewes. I’m very grateful to have finished the shearing too.
Last month saw the NSA Welsh Sheep take place at Llwyn Bedw, Talybont-on-Usk. A great location and although it was a soggy day, it was a great success with an outstanding amount of visitors. There was plenty to see and do for us sheep farmers and good to have a catch up with friends.
It’s been a busy couple of weeks as ever. That scorcher of a weekend we had meant we made a lot of good quality hay and silage but I am glad to see the end of it, my body doesn’t work that well at those temperatures!
The last of the shearing has been nailed and the lambs have been treated for flystrike. All the dry weather has meant grass growth isn’t as good as it normally is and one bunch of twin lambs aren’t doing as well as they normally would. I am thinking I might wean them a bit earlier than usual and get them back to the farm where I have some new leys for them to grow like mushrooms on!
We’ve sold all bar a handful of the February lambs. They’ve averaged £94.94, minus £9.71 each for hard feed though brings them back to £85.23. It’s good to get them gone and we’ve now moved on to selling the March lambs.
We’ve just managed to get in our crop of swedes in to help feed the ewes this winter - fingers crossed for a drop of rain now. This is a fairly wet farm which can be tricky in the winter grazing swedes so we’ve done a little bit of drainage to help this along in this year’s swede field.