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Wednesday 26th February 2014

The calm before the storm

I mentioned the weather in my last blog, and true to a farmer, I will also start this blog (as we start most conversations) referring to the weather. In the last month we've had rain and more rain as well as plenty of wind to test the strength of our buildings.

However, being a hill farmer and the land sloping in nature we don't suffer from floods which can only be described as a tragedy to many lowland farms this year. I sincerely hope the water recedes soon. If anything else, the flooding has generated many a debate and fingers pointed in many directions including sheep. The reality is that there's no easy answer, there are fewer sheep in the Welsh hills now than a decade ago as we have embraced agri environment schemes to reduce grazing so it simply doesn't make sense. No doubt the debate will continue but, I hope that those of you reading this blog will think more than to simply blame our sheep!

ork on the farm is plentiful at this time of year, most of the ewes are now housed in advance of lambing and have had their bums shorn or cleaned, received their multi vitamin drench and vaccinated to prevent any clostridial diseases in the newborn lambs. The first lot are due to lamb around the 7th March with the remainder to start a fortnight later so busy times ahead. Due to the lower scanning result than expected, we blood tested some ewes to try and find why and found that we have a problem with a small organism transmitted by cats which affects the ewes ability to conceive. Treatment is available and as part of the flock health plan we will be treating annually to avoid the same happening in future years; its good to find the root of the cause. The ewes that are not housed will be outside for another couple of weeks feeding on the swede/ turnip crop we'd sown in June. We operate a strip grazing system which means using an electric fence and providing a new or clean area of forage every 3 days. With this being a high energy crop, the ewes are looking well.

We've a few cattle to be sold as finished in the next few weeks, but are holding back somewhat as the price dipped in January- we are told that its due to reduced consumer spending post Christmas and an influx of Polish beef in the UK. I think the message is that if you want the guarantee of Welsh Beef or Welsh Lamb, just look for the logos which guarantees it to be just that.

Hopefully by the next blog I will have a few photos of newborn lambs on our farm to show, in the meantime, here's the ewes all lined up munching away on their feed..... 

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