13 March 2023
February means that we come to the end of our winter grazing on the stubble turnips and fodder beet. It gives us a challenge as the grass hasn’t started growing yet and we are still a couple of months away from lambing. We aim to finish at this stage, so we can get our spring cereal crops drilled in good time. The sheep went onto the forage crops early in the autumn, with the aim of ‘storing’ the grass over winter and using break fences to allocate it in the late winter and spring. As I write this in early March, we are having some cold and snowy weather, so the sheep are eating more than allocated and we are having to change our plans.
This year for the first time, we have grazed a two fields of winter wheat. This has helped cover the gap between the end of forage crops and onto the grass rotation. It will be interesting to see how this impacts the crop through the year and the yield. If there are positive results, it will give us a lot of extra forage over winter and could reduce our forage crop area.
In the last week we pregnancy scanned the flock. The dry summer and our previous scanning results meant I was not very optimistic. When we finished scanning, I was pleasantly surprised to get our results:
Our usual scanning results across the whole flock tend to be closer to the shearling/ Hampshire group, so for the shearlings to scan at 164% is great news. The mature ewes were weaned early in the summer and were tupped (mated) on fodder beet, these results were beyond what we were expecting. In previous years, I have struggled with the ewe lambs, with them hovering round the 80% mark, so again these results are really pleasing. The next job is to record each ewe’s individual performance and look how ram groups have performed.
Earlier in the month, we sold the last load of lambs, I have been pleased with how they have graded and we sold 80% before winter. The aim in next year is to improve this to 90%, to reduce the grazing pressure over winter.