Busy lambing time on the farm

I have been very busy with lambing, but now the end is in sight with just 26 hoggs left to lamb and a few odd and sods left out of the other flocks, writes farmer Frances Graham.

Tuesday, 5th May 2020, 3:13 pm

The weather has been very kind to us really, the sheep haven’t had much rain on their backs in the last month, but the bitter eastly wind was bad at times, the sheep went from not wanting to eat silage one day to being ravenous the next.

Who would have thought that earlier on in the year when we were all complaining wanting it to dry up that when it did dry up we are now all wanting it to rain again, farmers are just never happy.

I just hope that this isn’t the start of another drought, now I’ve said that it won’t know when to stop raining again!

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All the Mashams have lambed and have been taken back to York.

This year because we lambed inside we marked all of the lambs before we turned them out.

There is a lot more to do when you lamb inside but it does have its advantages. They are all in one shed so when a single lambs and you have a spare lamb that needs mothering on, you can lamb the single onto the spare lamb so the mother thinks its her lamb and can take it straight away.

Sometimes it works and sometimes doesn’t - it normally works if my Dad does it but not always for me.

We have found in the past that when we have lambed inside the lambs have had a better start to life and have fattened quicker and grown out better lambs.

The biggest down side to lambing inside is that there is a greater risk of them getting a naval infection or they could get watery mouth, which is a bacterial infection caused by E coil which is found in the environment.

You can treat lambs for this when they are born with an oral antibiotic, we haven’t used any this year because we haven’t had any real problems compared to last year, to prevent it cleanliness is very important to prevent infection and also to ensure the lambs have plenty of colostrum when they are born to help fight off the bacteria.

We try to use antibiotics as little as possible and something only gets treated when it needs to be treated, last year we had to treat all of the lambs in one building for watery mouth, but to reduce the use we haven’t lambed in that shed again and up to now it seems to have paid off.

The sheep got on better at lambing around the April 5 than they did at the start of March.

At the start of April I never seemed to manage to go out of the sheds because every time I did there would be something else lambing.

We never seemed to have enough pens either. Every day when I thought I had enough pens to put the sheep that had lambed in, they would all be full again so we would be going round the yard getting any old gate to make into a pen.

It’s nice now when we only have about eight sheep in the pens compared to about 40-50 some days.

In among all the lambing we did manage to find time to get the hoggs ready to go back to the moor.

My Grandad thinks that these are the best hoggs we have had.

We had to horn burn them with EG and also horn burn them with a line for which flock of sheep they were from.

We also vaccinated them against Enzootic abortion. The moor is very dead because of the heather beetle and the dry weather, so we could do with some rain to make it grow so then we can turn some ewes and lambs out.