Monday, 26 February 2018

Livestock-busy day

Today was a busy day with livestock. All the sheep (x 9) were due for their annual heptavac booster vaccinations against pasteurellosis pneumonia and various clostridial diseases. Doing this in advance of the ewes lambing means that some temporary protection is carried through to the new lambs until they are old enough to be vaccinated themselves. 

Injections drawn up ready
At the same time as administering their heptavac injections the sheep were also given an oral worming drench. Once all this was accomplished the flock was moved to a fresh field. The barn opens on to this field so apart from the fresh grass it is convenient for when the new lambs begin to arrive in March. 

The ewes will give birth outside and I’ll bring each ewe and lamb(s) into a bonding pen in the barn for 24 hours to make sure the lamb is suckling and all else is well. In my experience the Wiltshire Horn doesn’t seem to like being confined very much and, being a hardy breed, are happy to deliver outside. You do have to remain vigilant, however.

With the sheep all settled, the next task was to inseminate our youngest sow. This was something that could not be postponed as there is only a small window of opportunity when a sow is in season. I’ve been checking for signs of her being in season and reckoned I saw sufficient evidence 21 days ago from today. So last week I ordered some pedigree British Saddleback semen, courtesy of the excellent Deerpark Pedigree Pigs, which was posted Friday and arrived Saturday morning ready for me to begin administering it today. It wasn’t possible to begin this morning so it had to be left to this afternoon to administer the first ‘dose’. Sure enough the sow stood still for me and with one or two other signs evident I was convinced the timing was right. I’ll repeat the process tomorrow morning and afternoon, then time will tell. 

Three lots of British Saddleback pedigree semen with
catheters to administer them. Note the spiral tips.

The weather has been bitterly cold and the forecast is for this to continue for the rest of the week and snow is also expected. We had a couple of flurries already today. Extra attention is needed to manage the consequences of icy conditions, not least because drinkers, troughs and hose pipes freeze. After the afternoon feeding round was completed all the sleeping quarters were given extra straw bedding which will hopefully help with the conditions.


  1. I dont envy you the work with the sheep. I have just finished helping lambing at a friends place and it has been hard. She is a first time small holder and has no help, and not a lot of knowledge of sheep. I was concerned so offered to help. I dont think people completely work through in their heads what happens when you a "small farming" as my dad calls it. They think it is all going to be River Cottage and it isnt. Its bloody hard work, as you know. Now pigs, pigs I can get behind. If we were to ever get a small holding we would have some pigs. Good luck with the sow

  2. Thanks. How did the lambing go with your friend?

    1. It was hard work. Then the snow came. and we had to get them in. I think she is making her flock smaller as she couldnt have done it on her own.