With lambing all but complete (apart from half a dozen stragglers), it would be easy to use a footballing analogy and say it was a game of two halves.

To further the sporting connection, you could even liken it to Liverpool’s season, where a magnificent chance to break all sorts of long-held records sort of fizzled out and the campaign ended up as a bit of a damp squib.

Firstly, to the unprecedented beginning: when the first hundred ewes had lambed, there had been no abortions, no maternal deaths, and there were just over 200 living lambs on the ground.

I’ve been lambing sheep all my life, and that has never happened before.

Obviously, instead of modestly carrying on with my working schedule, I immediately texted everyone in my phonebook to celebrate (boast about) this minor milestone.

In truth, the scanning had indicated there were plenty of singles within the flock, so I knew that at some point there would be a run of these too.

Sure enough, that happened a few days later and then of course, the ewe lambs began, bringing with them a lamb and a half.

At the heels of the hunt, the ratio of ewes lambed to living lambs at 24 hours old is currently 185%.

That does not include empty ewes, and there were slightly more of them than average.


I don’t have a cut-off date for ram removal in the autumn, preferring instead to operate a flexi-system of lambing, which translates into almost a three-month spell in the lambing shed. If I didn’t enjoy the whole process and way of life, I should undoubtedly tighten up my dates and shorten this period significantly.


Two standout points should also be mentioned which contributed to lower lamb mortality and zero ewe deaths. Quite simply, cameras and oxytocin have proved to be a potent combination.

This may be too much detail, but the truth is that being in possession of a 61-year-old bladder is a cast iron means of ensuring the cameras are checked regularly at night.

Without going into gory detail, there wasn’t one night when ewes were left unwatched for more than five hours.

And as for those half dozen sheep that weren’t properly dilated, the double injection of oxytocin plus calcium is the closest thing to a miracle that I’ve come across in the world of farming. Without proper dilation, the ewe doesn’t show normal pre-lambing symptoms, but the regular spying on the cameras picked up her slight restlessness.

If she hadn’t given birth by morning, then an examination revealed an unopened cervix. In the old days when I didn’t see them at night, I sometimes missed the signs, and the first indications were a day later, when a dull ewe was writing her will at the back of the pen.


Extra housing (from the abandoned pullet rearing) completely negated the potential losses from the atrocious wet weather. Unlimited accommodation for young lambs meant that anything ‘green’ could be held inside for a few days longer.

And strong lambs seemed to suffer no ill effects from all the rain, apart from looking like they had been dipped in mud.

Similar sentiments applied to the annual special needs batch, comprising triplets, one-teaters, and ewes that just didn’t have enough milk.

They went into a bedded poultry house and were fed like dairy cows.

I was determined that none of them would succumb to mastitis from the relentless chewing of hungry lambs, so I steadily stepped up the meal.

I never knew that ewes would consume 1.6kg per head in a twice-daily feeding regime.

This works out at over 50 pence per head per day, but is it any worse than the alternatives?

Unless a lamb can be transferred onto a newborn single, then rearing it as a pet, or selling it for £20 aren’t exactly lucrative options, are they?

To finish with more footballing analogies, there were fewer own goals scored by me than other years, and I suspect we got the bounce of the ball in several instances.

In truth, it has been our most satisfying lambing ever, and I am looking forward to next season’s campaign. I’ve never said that before.