Lincolnshire Strategic Farm business event report - 28.01.20

Knowing your numbers

Speakers: Chris Elkington (host farmer), Ian Cairns (5Agri Consultancy), Sarah Pick (AHDB)

Overview of current farming practices

Take-home messages

  • Chris and Louise Elkington farm 45ha of permanent pasture, as well as 20ha of stubble turnips and 50ha of over winter grass
  • The sheep are split into two flocks, the first the indoor flock which consists of 154 Lleyn and Roussin ewes which lamb in February and the outdoor flock which consists of 183 Lleyn and Lleyn x Aberfield ewes which lamb outside in April
  • Charollais, Roussin, Lleyn and Highlander tups are used
  • Breed own replacements and lamb them as lambs, aim for them to be 35kg at 5 months of age
  • Lambs are retailed deadweight to Dunbia and then around 30% are retailed privately through their butchery business, Gelston Lamb

Further information

Update on progress since launch meeting (October 2019)  

Take-home messages

  • Chris has scanned both the indoor and outdoor flocks. The indoor flock scanned at 193% for the ewes and 144% for the shearlings (these shearlings did not lamb las year). The outdoor flock scanned at 179%, with the shearlings scanning at 125%, these shearlings did lamb last year. Chris was disappointed in the shearling results and discussion at the meeting focused on Chris’s management of his replacements. At scanning, bloods were taken from the shearlings to see if an iodine deficiency was still an issue.
  • Liz Genever is the consultant working with Chris. One of Chris’ priorities is to improve his grassland management. Chris will start by rotationally grazing ewes and lambs. Chris will start rotationally grazing the sheep in the spring, he has already started measuring the grass using a sward stick. This will help him understand how much grass is available for the sheep and when they can start grazing the platform.
  • Chris has also been on FecPak training since the last meeting. This will help Chris administer wormers only when required. Only administering wormers when required means there is less risk of the worms developing resistance. It also saves Chris money because he isn’t worming them when they don’t need to be.

Assessing flock performance

Take-home messages

  • Key performance indicators to measure flock performance include:
    • Replacement rate (%)
    • Lambs reared per 100 ewes put to the ram (%)
    • Lamb losses from scanning to weaning (%)
    • Daily liveweight gain for reared lambs (kg/day)
    • Average weight at weaning (kg)
    • Lambs hitting target spec (%)
  • Key figures to record: ewes to ram, scanning results, lambs born alive, lambs born dead, deaths in lambing shed and number of lambs weaned.
  • The group analysed Chris’ 2018/19 Farmbench figures and applauded him on low mortality and well controlled fixed costs. However they thought he could improve his barren rate, scanning percentage, weaning efficiency, variable costs and cost per ewe.

Scanning results


Barren at scanning


Lambs born alive


Lambs born dead


Deaths in lambing shed


Lambs weaned at 12 weeks


Weight of lambs weaned (kg)

31kg x 545 = 16,892

Cost of production (per kg liveweight produced)


Variable cost per ewe


Fixed cost per ewe


Annual cost of keeping a ewe



  • Once you have a good handle on your business you should ask yourself:
    • What are the main issues I need to focus on
    • What do I have to do to get there
    • When will I make these changes

Grants and funding available

  • Countryside stewardship
  • Countryside productivity scheme
  • Growth fund (EAFRD) and LEADER
  • When looking at grants consider the terms and conditions because they can be hard to deliver. For example, Chris and Louise could have got a grant for their butchery, but the paperwork was too complicated and it would have meant they would have to buy new kit. You also have to pay for the equipment before you can then claim the grant.

Further information