The farm supports 1,800 ewes lambing in two groups. 1,000 Dorset x Mules lamb in early January. Their cycles are synchronised with sponges and the ewes are injected with PMSG to lamb in a three week window. The ewes and lambs are turned out to stubble turnips at four weeks old. The lambs are creep fed until they reach the desired weight and grade.
From late May to November when the ewes are dry, they graze the adjoining Therfield Heath which is a Site of Special Scientific Interest. Other times of the year they graze permanent grass around the farms.
1,100 mules lamb mid February to mid March. These sheep are turned out after lambing onto grass and lambs are creep fed until finished. The aim is to finish 90% by the end of July. Suffolk rams are used to produce a mixed balance of finished lamb carcases.
Since annual rainfall is only 600 mm average per annum, there are minimal foot health problems. Lambs need to be finished quickly in the Summer before pasture dries out and drought sets in. Routine worming has been replaced by dung sampling in an effort to reduce the risk of resistance to the active ingredients in the products used.
Store lamb production
Each Autumn, depending on the availability of feed and number of our own lambs remaining on the farm, up to 3,000 store lambs are brought onto the farm and finished on catch crops of stubble turnips sown after Winter cereals and before Spring barley and sugar beet. The majority of lambs are sold between February and April. The remaining lambs are fed concentrates ad lib.
A local butcher’s shop is supplied with lamb throughout the year. The remainder of the lambs produced go to abattoirs in East Anglia and the South West or to live markets near Kettering.