Sheep being fed

Recent ‘atrocious’ weather killing lambs, say farmers

Despite the warm weather this week, cold and wet weather over the last month has hindered lambing for many sheep farmers across the South West.

It has been worse in some areas than others but the weather has slowed the season all over the region.


Adam Gale works on Nanswhyden Farm, a family-run business near Newquay in Cornwall, which has around 600 ewes and is nearing the end of their spring lambing period.

He said: “The weather is pretty atrocious, the past two weeks and pretty much since we started lambing it’s been soaking.

“There’s lambs being born in puddles in the fields, and we haven’t got the shed space to bring them all in.

“One night I went up into a field and there was a pond in the bottom corner, and a stream running to the pond with lambs sitting in the pond trying to shelter from the wind.

“This means bigger leg work for us to bring them in, we had to bring a load of them in that night, like 20.

“If it was dry they’d have all stayed out.

“There’s been deaths because of the rain, some drowned.

“It has a big financial impact but you can’t do much about the weather, you’ve just got to go with it.”

Sheep being fed on Cornish farm

The New Forest

Jon Narey runs a small sheep and hay business near New Milton, in the New Forest, where things have been a little better.

Jon said: “It’s not too bad, we’ve had a couple of twins and a few singles, we’ve got two more left to go into the shed which are being a bit slow.

“It’s been a bit on the slow side this year for some reason for me, I don’t why it was probably the weather. I haven’t got them out quite as quick as I normally could.

But these lot that have been born so far are doing pretty well, even though they look a bit small.”

Sheep on New Milton farm

The South West

It has been a bleak winter and spring for all farmers in the south, experiencing snow on more than one occasion and very cold spells.

Sharon Robinson, a representative from the Agricultural and Horticultural Development Board (AHDB), told the Breaker: “The weather has been cold and wet which increases the risk of lamb mortality.

“The country as a whole, including the South West, had snowy conditions much later in the year than when it might typically be expected snow.

“Therefore many farmers who would not usually face much risk of snow during lambing, had snow during lambing this year.”

Forecast for the lamb industry

Ms Robinson also said: “In terms of national statistics, we are forecasting a 3% (600,000 head) year-on-year decline in the size of the lamb crop (lambs born this year) due to the weather conditions, despite the fact that the breeding flock grew 1% year-on-year.

“Although we are forecasting that the number of lambs slaughtered in the 2018 calendar year will be up by 2% due to seasonality returning to a more historic pattern, and due to an increase in the number of lambs from the 2017 crop forecast to be killed between Jan and May 2018.”

Cornish farm

Leave a Reply
Related Posts