Early lambing is almost finished, with just 20 ewes remaining in the pre-natal area. However there is always plenty to do, 30 lambs needing to be fed from bottles three times a day, tidying up by moving groups of sheep around as numbers of ewes waiting to give birth dwindles, moving ewes and lambs from individual pens into the pop-up tunnels and generally cleaning used areas up ready for the the March lambing flock. There are also a large number of hungry sheep to feed every day and to make sure they have plenty of fresh bedding.

All lambs born last year for meat have now left the farm, with the last batch collected a few days ago. Lambs remaining from last year's lambing will be used as breeding stock, having been selected for their genetic merit. Those surplus to replacement flock requirements will be sold to other farmers.

Black ram Liquorice has been taken from the group of pet sheep to join all the other rams, now grazing a field on Manor Farm. At first the other rams seemed to be rather frightened by this dark sheep and scattered in all directions , but it was not long before he was accepted by his new companions .

During the week Kevin and Francis went to a mastitis meeting organised by Avon Farm Vets. Mastitis is a condition which can affect the mammary glands of mammals after giving birth, the tissue becomes inflamed, causing swelling and pain. This is often triggered by a bacterial infection, so usually needs to be treated with an antibiotic. The incidents of mastitis in Kevin's flock are low compared to some, but prevention of infection is always the best way.

There is a new vaccine available, but unfortunately it is very expensive and the meeting gave attending farmers information about the vaccine and other ways to keep infection of sheep's udders at bay. When lambs are suckling their mothers in a group situation you can get multiple suckling, which is when some ewes allow other than their own lambs to have a drink of milk. From an infection point of view this is not good, as an infection can spread quite quickly. The weather for this early lambing season has been dry, which has helped keep incidents of mastitis lower. As a result of the meeting Kevin is going to allow his vet to take some milk samples, which will hopefully help him to put more mastitis control measures in place.

Niece Natalie and her fiance Alex are farming free-range chicken in Lincolnshire, so I thought I would get an update on their progress, as this will be their first season. They have 20,000 birds housed in three purpose built sheds, which were out of use but brought up to modern standards with a great deal of dedication and hard work.

Normally the hens would have access to roam mature woodland, but unfortunately this cannot happen at the moment due to the current outbreak of Avian Flu. The strict regulations put in place means that all poultry have to be kept safely housed away from all wild bird .

Welfare of the hens is always the number one priority, with recommendations for enriching their lives. At the moment there is "enhanced enrichment , which means that extra things have to be put in place in the houses to compensate for them not being able to roam outside. Dust baths have been installed, as have hanging items to peck, extra straw and extra grit, which they would normally find when scratching about outside. Hopefully it will not be too long before the hens will be able to roam in the woodland outside.

Next week I will tell you about all the audits that have to be done. All Natalie and Alexs ' eggs are bought by Anglia Free-Range Eggs , who then sell them on to consumer outlets, such as Tesco , who have done the most recent audit on their farm.