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lambing

Farming

Our first year Lambing at Cocking Hill Farm

14th May 2017

Wow, where to begin. On the 1st of April we had our first lambs. A triplet (they always tend to drop earlier than the twins or the singles!), we weren’t actually expecting any until the 6th/7th but as we moved them into their lambing paddocks, they had fresh grass and the sun was shining and I think they just thought, yup – I’m ready to have my babies now. And they did, we had the triplet go on the 1st and then after that it was a whirlwind of lambs from then on.

Luckily, the beginning of April also saw the arrival of Will. Will came to help us with lambing having (almost) finished at Agricultural college and he has been a very welcome addition to the farm! He knows pretty much all there is to know about tractors, is great with the livestock and even shares my passion for keeping the barn/farm clean and tidy.

We got ourselves into a nice routine, or as routine as you can get with the unpredictable nature of lambing! A typical day would see us with me going into the barn to feed/water the orphans and ewes we had to bring inside, then Andy would check round the ewes/lambs around the home paddocks and Will would go to the other side of the farm to check the rest. Andy and Will would look out for anything struggling, and bring back ewes/lambs that had problems to the barn so we could keep a close eye. Also, typically when ewes have triplets, or quads we tend to have to take one of the lambs off the mum as they can struggle to feed all three lambs (or anything more than 2) – this is where the bulk of our orphans come from. We can however foster the orphans off to ewes that have lost lambs, or even just have singles – and we did so really successfully this year leaving us with only around 30 orphan lambs (out of 2500ish – not too shabby!).

Aswell as Will, we also had a couple of friends to stay which was such a great help. Welshy, our friend came down from London to lend a hand for a week and a bit. Having him to stay was a dream, aside from letting me steal his beaut photos to use on instagram, he cooked (one night even from foraged wild garlic he found in a field) and gave me an excuse to drink wine each night guilt free! Our friends Ed and Lu also came and helped a couple of days which was amazing – we’re so lucky to have a job that we can invite or friends help!

We had about 1,800 pregnant ewes to tend to so at its peak it was pretty intense, as you can imagine. Moral was kept up, usually by breakfast table photo show and tells. Each of us would fight over who got the best shot of the day of lambs in the sunshine! Obvs I’ve never known any other way, and I’m completely bias, but I really think outdoor lambing has to be the best way to do it. The Romneys are amazing sheep, and such proud mothers – in a matter of 2mins, you can see a lamb being born, the mum licking it off and it get up and drinking. I mean, it puts humans to shame really doesn’t it! So that’s it, year one lambing at Cocking Hill – DONE….well almost…we’ve finished lambing the main flock and now its the ewe lambs turn, there are only about 200 of them, so compared to the main bulk, its been a dream. They’ve done so well considering its the first year they have lambed, and we’ve had minimal problems (hopefully it continues!).

So all in all lambing went well, we couldn’t have been luckier with the weather for outdoor lambing conditions, and we managed to hold on to grass in the lambing paddocks. So yes, onwards to the next chapter (the fun never ends in farming you see!), next we will be turning thoughts to summer with lots of farm related events, shearing and eventually selling some stock! Zero chill time in 2017 for us!

If I’ve left anything out..or if you have any lambing related quezzies, let me know!