There has been plenty of work to do on Manor Farm. The first flock of 500 ewes have all given birth, so the main lambing barn has been emptied, mucked out, given a thorough clean and re- bedded with plenty of fresh straw. The remaining 300 ewes, due to give birth in late March were gathered from the fields they were grazing and brought back to the farm.

Early in the week these 300 ewes and the 200 brought into what used to be the dairy pre-milking collecting yard were given their booster vaccination for protection against a number of clostridial diseases.

This active immunisation will be passed to their new born lambs, so will reduce the likely hood of infection and mortality. A few days after receiving their vaccination the 500 ewes were separated into their lambing groups. They have recently been pregnancy scanned and colour coded so sorting them out using the handling system was quite easy.

They are now in three lots, those carrying singles, those with twins and the third scanned with triplets or multiples. These will enable them to be fed the correct level of nutrients in their diet.

This is to prevent the pregnant ewes getting twin lamb disease - the name given for pregnancy toxaemia.This means that there are insufficient nutrients in the diet to meet the high energy demands of the ewe and her lamb/s , which causes her blood glucose to drop, when she will become dull, not eat and will have difficulty standing. At this stage the ewes are receiving a diet consisting of 1/3 maize silage and 2/3 grass silage, plus the appropriate level of concentrate which is set at a different level for each group.

The silages are regularly analysed, by sending samples taken by our nutritionist to a laboratory. The sampling is done regularly as the quality of the silage in the clamp can vary according to a variety of factors. For example whether we are feeding first, second or subsequent cuts, or if the dry matter changes.

We recently sent a maize sample for analysis which indicated that it is quite dry with good digestibility and metabolisable energy. Kevin told me that apart from being drier than last year the maize was not chopped so finel , so the ewes are not eating some of the coarser leafy parts .

Earlier I mentioned that the ewes are colour code , indicating the number of lambs they are carrying, but they have also been coded to show the family group they are in. To identify them to a family the colour was sprayed in a circle on their necks, just behind their heads.

There are quite a few families so when the sheep were penned prior to sorting they looked very colourful in a tightly packed flock. It is the offspring of this flock that will produce the breeding flock replacements.

Mucking out was certainly one of the main jobs done on Manor Farm during the past week . On a walk around the farm I came across Ian and Jenny, busily mucking out the loose yard housing our Angus calves. The calves had been temporarily penned in a small area at the far end of the barn for this to take place. Ian was loading the trailers using the tractor and forklift , whilst Jenny was taking the loaded trailers to a storage area, where the manure was added to the heap .

The dry cold weather seems to be better for our young Anguses and Kevin's lambs, as there have been no new cases of pneumonia, but unfortunately, one previously infected calf does not seem to be responding very well to treatment . Hopefully it will make a full recovery.