Once the new-year comes, one of the first jobs that we do here is to scan the sheep.
It is the one day when you get a glimpse of what lies in-store for the year ahead.
All the planning and hard work from last autumn is up for scrutiny.
It is too late now to do anything about it, but you need to know where you stand so that you can plan for the spring.
Last year, my eldest son, William, took over the management and running of the sheep flock.
He has worked with sheep on a farm in Scotland for over six years with the understanding that my sheep flock would be his whenever he felt that he was ready to take it on.
I have been sheep farming for 36 years and I must admit to being a little emotional when I give him full control over the sheep
He came home in the middle of last year and took over all aspects of the sheep enterprise.
I have been sheep farming for 36 years and I must admit to being a little emotional when I give him full control over the sheep.
There are lots of farmers who keep hold of all aspects of their farm until they die, but I am determined not to do this. I have no problem stepping back and watching him succeed at something he loves to do.
William is changing things slightly, and has brought in some Meatlinc and Lleyn genetics
I will be here to advise him, but only if I am asked. All decisions are his now.
The majority of the sheep in the flock are based around New Zealand Suffolk and Belclare breeding, with a few Mule ewes. William is changing things slightly, and has brought in some Meatlinc and Lleyn genetics.
He worked hard in the autumn to try and have the sheep in perfect condition prior to tupping and definitely spent more time with them than I would have (in recent years). He bought a new ram and split them into suitable batches to go with each ram.
He has also kept a lot of ewe lambs with the intention of increasing the size of the flock.
When scanning started, I could tell that he was a little nervous.
The first batch was a small group of ewe lambs put with the new ram. Sadly, it turned out to be disastrous. There were a lot of empties, and it looks like the new ram has not done the job required from him.
It is probably not the end of the world as he can let them run over until next year when they should be good hoggets. The rest of the ewe lambs were fine and scanned mostly singles, with a few doubles and a few empties.
Then we moved on to the ewes and things started to improve. His Mule ewes scanned 190%. The Belclares scanned 226% and the New Zealand Suffolk 220%. Overall scanning percentage for the ewes came in at 213%.
With only two ewes out of 150 not in-lamb, the mood certainly improved, and apart from the little blip at the start it was a very impressive scanning.
I think William is very satisfied with his progress so far and I am very proud of how he is managing.
I would encourage other farmers to give your son or daughter a chance while you are still around, and more importantly while they still have a good interest.
Although this is only the start – the next challenge for William is to try and get as many lambs as possible out alive and reared successfully. For the sheep flock on this farm, I have always worked with the premise that you have to get the lambs into the ewes to have any hope of getting a good number reared successfully, and sold later in the year.