3rd April 2017
Having only started lambing on the family farm at Newport eight years ago, Toby has convinced his father of the benefits sheep can bring to the mixed enterprise and built up numbers to 650-head. Purchases, inheritance and rental agreements have added more land to the business and, coupled with ambitions to increase stocking rates and potentially reduce the arable acerage, Toby now has his sights set on 900 ewes in the near future.
Such ambition heartily impressed the selection panel, as well as Toby’s clear drive to be an active member of NSA and a confident spokesperson for the sector. He says: “Promoting the sheep sector is close to my heart and I try to get anyone involved and tell everyone about our products as a sheep and beef finisher.”
Top fact: Toby is employed in two livestock markets, Market Drayton and Ludlow, grading and penning lambs. He says this regular work helps his business, in terms of regularly handling finished lambs and following the trade.
January and February have been a whirl wind getting ewes in ready for lambing. Trying to keep them clean and happy on turnips is a big job with the weather has been like it has.
Teaser tups have definitely helped tighten our lambing up and we are now underway with the second batch. We could just do with some nice weather and not too many storms like Doris, but our spring lambs are growing nicely and it will soon be time to think about selling and weighing every week.
I had a fantastic three days meeting fellow NSA Next Generation Ambassadors for the first delivery session in Bradford in mid-February, where we heard and took part in some excellent talks and visits. I am really looking forward to the next 12 months.
It has been a busy couple of months and lambing almost done. We are on the last bunch now and those lambs which have been turned out to grass are growing well. It is interesting to see the growth differences between lambs on grass and turnips, we are continuing to graze on both for now. We have started selling spring lambs too and the weights have been very pleasing. Hogg season is in full swing at the market where I work, and we are just starting to get all the spring ground work all done.
We have now finished lambing thankfully and have sold the last of the January born lambs recently. I’ll have the first draw out of the February lambs before long, which at 12-weeks old should be averaging 40kg. All the spring crops are in and have welcomed the rain of late. At long last the paddock grazing we are doing this year seems to working well, with worm burden being at a minimum. We are working very closely with our vets this year carrying out faecal egg counts coupled with regularly weighing the lambs to monitor growth rates against worm burden, it will be interesting to assess how this is working through the coming months.
It's been a busy few weeks with grass to bale and sheep to shear, but this year has been a good run with the weather on our side. We’ve finished shearing at home and have all the grass in.
I don't think I have ever seen a spring like it for lamb growth. With the price remaining at a good constant level, it has made the finished product look even more appealing. Tups are already going out with the ewes ready for the early lambing flock next year – it’ll be here before we know it.
I had the great pleasure of judging the Staffordshire County Flock competition this year and I’ve had an amazing time seeing so many different flocks and management ideas. With show season in full swing, I am also involved in stewarding at Stafford County Show. It was a pleasure to be involved in the sheep section with a tremendous show of sheep. I am also heavily involved in organising Newport Show, where I am keen to push and promote sheep entries and the industry. I am looking forward to the next few weeks in which I’ll be judging the butchers lambs at a local show before moving to another local show for more judging in various areas of the sheep section.