The Life on the Farm column with Frances Graham

We will be scanning 775 sheep and everyone is feeling a bit stressed about it.
We will be scanning 775 sheep and everyone is feeling a bit stressed about it.

When the snow came the other week everything felt a little strange because we didn’t have to battle to feed the sheep.

The only thing we had to battle with was water for the cattle – it just constantly froze. Luckily we managed to keep a few water bowls going.

There was a day when we had to thaw them all out because the wind chill was just going right through the buildings, freezing pipes even if they had insulation on.

The most worrying thing was that if the water had frozen up we didn’t know what we would do for water – there is a trough in the lane that cattle can drink out of but there just wasn’t enough to keep them going if the water remained frozen.

This is because the springs are drying up again because of the lack of rain.

Normally you would expect it to happen in the summer but never the winter, but this last weekend certainly made up for the dry spell we had.

I suspect that there will be more bad weather to come, probably at lambing time, when we all really could do without it – there doesn’t seem to be any sense in the weather now.

On Friday we went down to York to check the sheep because the weather was so bad at home. However, there was just a gentle breeze compared to the strong winds at home.

We dosed our gimmer lambs for lung worms. A sign for lung worms is coughing and last time, when we gathered them up, they were coughing really bad so we decided we better treat them because we didn’t want to lose any lambs.

We treated them with a white wormer (there are different groups of wormers that treat worms differently), this is the best one to treat what we wanted to treat.

We try to use wormers less because in some cases worms are becoming resistant by misuse (treating them when they don’t need to be treated) so we use them as little as possible.

Normally we try to worm our sheep once a year if there is no sign that they have worms to prevent resistance.

We also gave them a dose of multi vitamins. It seems to do as much good as worming and also can help when they get stressed like when they have lung worms.

Since the snow the other week, and the rough wet weather, we have lost a few fat lambs with pneumonia.

They are vaccinated against it but sometimes, if the spring has been rough and the lambs haven’t got as much colostrum off their mothers, they don’t always get the immunity from the ewe so we are having to give them another jab of Ovivac P to prevent pneumonia.

Hopefully we will stop losing them because the cost of vaccinating them is only the price of a couple of lambs.

By the time you read this we will have scanned the rest of the ewes at Ouseburn.

I had to go and fasten them off the stubble turnips the night (Sunday) before to starve them and hopefully they will be still in the field in the morning ready for scanning after dinner.

I’m not sure how things are going to go because we have 775 sheep to scan.

Penning them up is the biggest problem because we only have electric fences.

There is nothing permanent to make a pen. I think everyone is feeling a bit stressed, hoping that everything is going to go to plan and that the sheep don’t get mixed up.