Kevin and family have been busy doing work with the sheep as lambing the first 500 ewes will begin in the new year.

This means that it was time to gather these ewes from pasture on Manor Farm and bring them back to the barns they will occupy for the next few months. These have been thoroughly cleaned and are now bedded up with plenty of clean straw.

The collies have enjoyed the week, liking nothing better than working for Kevin.

I was really impressed by the way the youngsters. Winston and Star were working, listening to Kevin's commands as they gently drove the ewes forward. I helped with a road crossing on route and it wasn't long before the sheep were safely penned at the farm ready for sorting.

The ewes were then guided through a narrow race to a holding pen where each one was given a booster injection to protect them against diseases caused by a number of clostridial bacteria.

They were also sorted into groups, depending on the number of lambs they are carrying. This was determined when they were scanned a short time ago and marked with a coloured spots.

If carrying one lamb a red dot was sprayed on their rumps, those with twins were unmarked (these are the majority ), those carrying triplets were sprayed with a blue dot and finally two blue dots on any carrying multiples.

They have been divided in this way to ensure that they receive the correct nutrients in their feed. They are all being fed a ration of 1/3 maize and 2/3 grass silage. This is then topped up with a concentrate, allocated in varying amounts to each group.

The ewes have all settled down in their winter accommodation , looking very content when I saw them the other day.

Another job was to take the rams from the ewes due to lamb in March next year. These rams were also brought back to a barn so they can be regularly checked, making sure they are in good health.

The flocks of sheep remaining on grass are the March lambing ewes, the rams used on the early lambing ewes, the ram lambs and ewe lambs. These sheep are on tack, which means they are doing a valuable job on grass previously grazed by cattle or just needs grazing, so are mainly on other farms.

This involves a great deal of work erecting and taking down electric sheep fencing, also moving the sheep, which often has to be done using trailers. Then there is the paperwork, as all the movements on and off holdings other than our own have to be recorded .

Apart from Ian helping Kevin with the sheep for a few days during the week , there has been some work with our Angus cattle.

We were sent notification that three of our recent intake of weaned calves would have to be tested for TB. The reason being that their dams had recently tested positive, so we were contacted via track and trace. This being the case a day and time was arranged for the skin tests . On that day Jenny helped Ian to pen the calves ready and decided that while the animals were being restrained presented an opportunity to weigh them all. It is always a good idea to handle animals as little as possible , so doing the two procedures at the same time seemed a good idea.

The weight gains since they arrived were found to be optimal, so they will continue to receive the same ration of maize and grass silage, topped up with a small quantity of a balanced concentrate .