It’s been a long few months since I last had the chance to write a blog, but as of Friday, lambing 2016 is officially over for Solway Shepherd.
Lambing 2016 has been such a totally different experience, it’s hard to believe that it was only a little over a year ago that we were experiencing our first ever lambing season! Those few weeks last Spring seemed so hectic at the time, which is quite funny when I look back on it now. You can catch up with last year’s lambing HERE
The last 9 weeks have been spent lambing at 3 different farms, locally, at home and away in Cheshire.
Having far more experience of working with sheep, and knowing all the things that can go wrong, made lambing far more stressful this year. We really went in blind and flew by the seat of our pants last year.
The first of our lambs arrived on March 3rd and they kept coming steadily for the next month or so. Despite lambing about 5 times the amount we had last year, we didn’t really see a drastic increase in problems, which was nice. We lost a few between scanning and lambing, and I did have the odd hour or two up to my elbows in a ewe at half one in the morning untangling triplets, but other than that things all ran pretty smoothly!
I’m probably a little biased, but it has been the Lleyn lambs that have impressed me the most. The pedigree shearling ewes were first time lambers but stayed fit, bagged up with gallons of milk and all produced strong, healthy sets of twins (apart from one large tup lamb that was born dead), leaving us with 5 ewe lambs and two rams.
I didn’t really know what to expect from them when I returned from Macclesfield, but they have grown really well and are looking promising so far! The flock is being recorded as part of the Lleyn Sheep Society’s Lleyn Gold scheme, so will all be weighed in the next week or so to measure how they are performing. Depending on their performance, the ewe lambs will be kept to help grow the flock, while the tups will be sold as breeding stock if they make the grade.
At the beginning of April, I packed my bags and headed South for my first contract lambing job, where I spent about 3 and a half weeks as part of a team lambing 1500 Suffolk, Texel and Cheviot cross ewes on a part outdoor system just outside of Macclesfield. It was great to experience a totally different lambing system and scale and I learned a lot during my time there.
Contract lambing is definitely something I’m going to pursue again, hopefully finding work either side of our own lambing here at home (early lambing in December/January and later lambing in April). It’s great to meet and work with other farmers and learn from them and experience new systems, while also earning money to support my own flock here.
I’ve definitely come away with some new ideas, which I’m busy researching.
Now lambing is over, normal service should resume, so keep your eyes peeled for plenty of new blogs!