Coping with the hot and dry weather

Sam Jones, Challenge Sheep farm, Worcestershire

“We have gone from the wettest February to the driest April and May, and it doesn’t look as though there is rain coming anytime soon. So far though we have coped well. The sheep were all shorn before this hot weather which is fortunate - sheep with full fleeces on would certainly have struggled. Our ewes and lambs are looking fantastic and are coping well out in the field with a good water supply and minerals; sheep always do well in the heat. Weaning is going to be the next concern, if we don’t have rain over the next 7‒10 days then we will have to start weaning early to save remaining grass for the lambs. It’s not ideal but needs must. We do use a rotational grazing system but we are having to move them more frequently so they don’t eat it down too short, else it will take too long to come back.

“We’ve just done the silaging and we are 50% down on usual. I just hope to god the rain comes for the second cut, else we will be in trouble. The rest of the year will be a big reshuffle. The straw, hay and haylage will be in very short supply. We are going to drop a couple of arable fields and put in a winter cover crop in to keep the ewes outside for as long as possible as the feeding will be short.

“The problem with the weather is that you never know what you are going to get so it is important to plan for everything.  We all thought after the horrendously wet winter we endured that we would have a great spring and everything would grow; how wrong we were! Having younger leys has certainly been a bonus this time round but we could do with some more for next time.”