Posted on 20 March, 2017Comments (0)

Farm Notes

Farm Notes

Another month and little has changed – no crops have been planted and only a few have been fertilised because the ground is so wet. This winter’s rainfall has not been excessive but continuous with only a few drying opportunities. When I first started at Hall Farm my aim was to complete sowing of the spring barley by 12th March and the other spring crops soon after but this has not been achieved for a number of years, I guess due to climatic changes. The yields from spring crops tend to decline as the planting date moves later but one advantage of a delay is that the soil is warmer and day length longer so the crops emerge and establish much quicker partly because of the non- ploughing techniques which we use now. In preparation for the tractor activity I ordered 5000 litres of diesel today which should be enough for the sowing period but a bigger invoice than topping up a car at the BP station!

The ewes have started lambing but only about 1 ewe a day so I am hoping for the pace to increase. So far the score is 3 sets of triplets, 2 doubles and 1 single which has a symmetry about it. Jacques, the Charolais ram has been busy! Lambs will be turned out night and day from tomorrow as the weather forecast is better and the lambs are strong.

Yesterday I took the last of the 2016 lambs to market which concluded a good physical performance – only 2 lambs died unexpectedly since turnout last March and 77 have been sold from 42 ewes put to the ram, so a sold percentage of 1.83% which is very good. The disappointment is that the lambs sold yesterday, which all graded, averaged £71 before market costs – this is little different to the prices 34 years ago and sums up why your lamb is likely to come from abroad in future. The sight of lambs gambolling in fields will become a rare thing – buy British lamb to support British sheep farmers! We have tried marketing directly to Waitrose and Tesco at different times to improve returns but after initial success it did not work – eg the Waitrose nominated abattoir was moved from Guildford to Cornwall – which was obviously not practical on financial or welfare grounds.

Spring time is a wonderful time of year with the natural world stirring after the winter – I particularly like the longer days, warmth and birdsong. At this time of year my work takes me to Wiltshire a couple of times a week to advise other farmers on their crops. Every farm is different and the countryside is amazing especially early in the morning – some days I am on the client’s farm in Wiltshire by 6 am when few people are about – I am lucky to be paid to walk in fantastic countryside.

Julian Lewis

[Please note that this message is not posted on behalf of Bentworth Parish Council and does not necessarily reflect the Parish Council’s policy]

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