I farm: “Around 50ac of grassland with my wife Emma and our children Lucie, 11, and James, eight, who help out as well. We run 110 ewes made up of 30 pedigree Texels, 40 Mules and 40 Swaledales. We sell Texel rams as shearlings, mostly from the yard and at society sales in Ballymena and Rathfriland.”

Lambing 2023: “The Texels start lambing around 15 February. Our Mule ewes were implanted with Texel embryos and lamb at the same time. The Swaledale ewes start lambing around 8 April to Bluefaced Leicester rams.”

Jobs for the week ahead: “The Swaledale ewes will be scanned next week. I scan the sheep myself. The Texels were scanned before Christmas and averaged 180%.”

Scanning work: “I have been scanning sheep and cows for 11 years and the workload is hectic at this time of year. I start scanning spring-calving cows in August, autumn-calvers in March and sheep in early December. It’s a seven-day week from December to February to get through the scanning work before our own sheep start lambing. When I started out, I scanned 1,800 ewes in my first year. This year, I will scan 42,000 ewes and 7,500 cows. I cover farms across Co Down, Armagh and Antrim.”

Scanning results: “Ewes that lambed in December and January scanned really well, with litter size up 20% on last year. Mid-season lambing flocks are back 30% in lamb numbers. Ewe condition was a big factor in scanning results this year. The dry summer and lack of grass saw a lot of thin ewes going to the ram. Cows on the other hand are scanning really well.”

Enjoying the job: “Although it is busy, I like the scanning work. You see a lot of different farms and pick up plenty of ideas. There’s a great social side also with meeting farmers. My son James comes with me some weekends and is a great help, while Emma and Lucie look after things at home.”

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