Hard times for UK’s sheep farmers

Lambs in the snow
Lambs in the snow
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Spare a thought for the plight of sheep farmers currently lambing their flocks, whilst battling against the unreasonable snow and bitter easterly winds.

This dedicated sector of the agricultural industry have had little reward for their effort for several years, and they also provide a service to society by ensuring the countryside in the upland areas continues to look at its best.

The high rainfall in the UK last summer stopped these farmers from making any quality silage or hay and this shortfall required them to buy in expensive concentrates and forage to feed their flocks throughout the winter.

Some who were fearful of extending their overdraft facility at the bank were forced to sell their breeding stock, but those who persevered now find themselves battling against nature again.

To avoid high losses farmers have been forced to fill all available shed room with ewes and lambs for twice as long as normal.

Normally ewes and lambs are turned out to pasture 3-5 days after birth, but the coldest March in a generation has stopped all grass growth requiring them to be fed even more hay and concentrate in the field to ensure the ewes maintain a good supply of milk.

These farmers deserve our support and the best way of doing that is by buying British lamb when shopping.

The dry spell at the beginning of March allowed me to start drilling some of my Spring Barley.

On the day the soil condition was dry enough for the cultivations and 24 hours later the drill followed with 50 acres drilled by nightfall.

Germination was surprisingly quick and all the seed had chitted after four days. Unfortunately the 35mm of rain that fell over the next three days and the last two weeks of freezing weather has stopped all growth.

There is now no prospect of any more drilling at Poolham until the middle of April at the earliest.

The cold weather has also stopped the growth of the winter sown crops. My winter wheat is struggling having been unable to utilise 
the nitrogen applied 
during the last week of February.

This fertiliser will still be available when the weather eventually warms up, but the yield potential of these crops must now be lower than normal.

The crop that gives me most concern at the moment is my Oilseed Rape as it has made little growth.

I am fighting a losing battle trying to stop the pigeons from eating any new growth that may appear and over two hours of my time every day is spent stopping the flocks from settling on the fields.

They can decimate a field of small Oilseed Rape Plants in no time at all, and the only way of keeping them away is by using a variety of bird scaring measures of which the propane gas is the most efficient.

If you are being disturbed by a gas gun banging 
through the night or even starting before seven in the morning, just tell the farmer and he will check the timer on the gun.

I can assure you no farmer has any wish to disturb the public from a good night’s sleep.