Depressions and losses on the Hughes sheep farm

In this week’s Farmer’s Diary, sheep farmer Clodagh Hughes discusses the benefits of maintaining a closed herd policy and lambing in 2022.

Apologies, I’m late with my “weekly” journal entry. But, I think you’ll forgive me when you hear what I’ve done.

As I mentioned in my last article, my lambing season has not started well. And I’ve also suffered a few losses since the last time I spoke to you!

Unfortunately, this is all part of the ups and downs of sheep farming. As I progressed in my farming career, I noticed that I handled these setbacks with less emotional stress than before.

This in no way diminishes each loss. They always hit me where it hurts and, I’m not just talking about my pocket!

But I’ve learned to accept that as long as I’ve done my best, I have to take care of the animals that need my attention.

Lambing 2022

So in the spirit of staying positive, I won’t dwell on the negativity any further.

What can I talk about then? Well, how about all the fabulous, healthy lambs that have been born in the past week or ten days!

Among the many sets of twins and singles, there have been three sets of triplets and a lovely set of quads, all of which have survived and are thriving… be it with a little extra bottle-fed milk from this happy shepherdess.

As I pursue my goal of having my own closed flock (meaning raising and keeping my best ewes and only buying rams when needed), I can already see the benefits of this type of sheep business and how much more confidence it gives me in the quality of the sheep I raise.

It means I really get to know the type of sheep I have in my flock.

I know which sheep have problems or quirks, and I also appreciate the character of each sheep.

As this is my fifth year of breeding, I have started to see these benefits.

It boosts my confidence as a sheep farmer to know that I am producing the highest quality product possible.

Bottle fed lambs

Back to lambing, however, I have to explain that having triplets and quads can look great on the numbers side. However, it means a lot more work for me on a practical level.

More often than not, the ewe simply would not have enough colostrum to feed more than two lambs.

Therefore, I either step in with preserved colostrum from a plentiful ewe or I will use good quality commercially available colostrum which is essential for any sheep farmer.

I currently have three lambs on the bottle. However, this is set to increase very soon due to a number of additional lambs being born over the weekend.

I’m going to implement an automatic bucket loader to reduce my workload a bit.

Finally, I’m glad I managed to raise a few lambs out of ewes that only had one. It’s every shepherd’s dream.

I would like to go to sleep now… Zzzzzzz

See more Clodagh Sheep Farming entries.