Daniel and Claire Redfern bought the farm in 1996, which then consisted of 46 acres, the silage pit, hay barn and the old wooden shed, with no inch of concrete in sight. Things are now very different with two large sheep sheds the main feature. But the sheep don’t stay there long.
The 804 ewes went to the tups for just 35 days, of which 780 lambed, and in the 2017 lambing year the vet was only called once, for a sheep with triplets dead at inside of her. Ewes scanned with singles and twins are not fed concentrates before lambing, just hay and fodder beet. The diet relies entirely on the grazed grass of the winter pasture. If grazed, they are moved, in a few cases three or four times, plus the use of feed buckets, like Rumenco, where his daughter Davinia works.
They are normally brought indoors for only two weeks before lambing and fed on hay, but the constant rain this year has kept them indoors longer. Most calving ewes are not fed concentrates.
The tripled ewes (82) and those of the 178 ewe lambs scanned for twins (63) were fed for one month before lambing. Started at 1lb but quickly rising to 2lb. The housed ewes are grouped according to the scan results.
The results showed that 344 Mule-type sheep and older sheep were placed in a Texel tup scanned at 186 percent, with only 16 sterile. The 173 two- and three-shear ewes put on a Cheviot scanned at 210%, without any sterile, and the 103 pure Cheviot ewes put at Blue Faced Leicester scanned at 167% with 9 steriles. All 178 Cheviot Mule and Texel x lambs were scanned at 131 percent, with all 63 doubles and 3 triplets fed before and after lambing. Only 13 were sterile.
At lambing starting around March 15, Danny and his sons Sam and Dan are on duty on three shifts, 24 hours a day. Do not interfere until the head and legs appear. Once she lambs, they are taken to a nearby row of 30 wire hedge lambing pens, filling all the other pens to begin with, to avoid bad sticking. Then within 12 hours that row is emptied and moved so that it can be disinfected by Surgene.
“Hygiene is paramount,” says Danny.
Their welcoming technique consists of putting a new lamb, dry or still wet, to the ewe while it lambs its bachelor, hiding the lamb of the ewe behind it when it comes out, until it has took the adopted lamb. By falsely lambing the supposed second lamb if need be, it works nine out of ten times, says son Dan.
Triplet ewes or double ewes are grass fed until the lambs take the ramp, then it is removed. Decox buckets are available for lambs.
Preferably they are moved directly to the grass after lambing at about four ewes per acre, supplemented if necessary with fodder beets and silage, but if the weather is bad they find a place in the yard, in hedges or in their large cattle trailer. , for a day or two.
All ewes are vaccinated with Heptovac P and ewes are vaccinated against enzootic abortion and toxoplasma. The ewes are dewormed twice a year with a treatment against the fluke. Lambs are dewormed every five to six weeks. Sheep are kept until they are six years old. The horses are tested to avoid the foot problems they had with the Texels. Sheep lambs are labeled in the colors of the Welsh Mule Society.
Lambs are sold from August, unless the trade is very good. The goal is to get over £ 80 for a lamb, with many going to St Merion. At least 200 ewes are sold each year for breeding.
The two sons are experts in laying hedges and installed 900 meters of their hedge and 1,100 meters of fencing as part of the stewardship program last winter. Three log cabins were also built, usually rented for a short week to families or groups of friends, the attraction being the built-in hot tubs. They also took advantage of the erection of a long length of 10kW ground-mounted solar panels very early on, with a 25-year payout.