Although my parents aren’t farmers, I grew up with farming on both sides of the family. My uncle and grandfather on my mother’s side are dairy farmers. When we visited, I'd always be helping out on the farm. That’s when I got addicted to farming and where it started for me. I decided to study Land Management at the Royal Agricultural University in Cirencester. When I graduated, I started renting land. Hollies’ parents and both her siblings farm, but her interest in farming took a radical turn when we met: she kicked the horses out and the sheep came in.
Firstly, we have a pedigree flock made up of Beltex and Blue Texel sheep. We aim to breed our own high quality rams, rather than buying them in. Secondly our replacement / breeding stock consists of pure Lleyn ewes, meaning we don’t need to buy ewes in, and can maintain a closed flock. It is important for us to only breed from the best ewes. Lastly, we cross our Lleyn ewes with our own Beltex or Blue Texel rams to produce lambs to be sold as meat. We sell our lambs directly to customers via our local meat box business.
We also farm a mixed herd of Angus cross and British Longhorn. EID tags have proved to be useful there as well. Most of our cows are artificially inseminated. We can track all of the breeding records by using just the app. By scanning the ear tag, everything you need to know about the cow is right there: from the date the insemination took place to sire information. It has taken away a lot of headache.
We weighed all the ewes right after we signed up in summer. And then we weighed ewes just before tupping. That's been really helpful. You can see the difference in the weight gain they've put on. We use the eWeigh system to weigh and monitor lambs. Tracking their weight gain provides insight into when the lambs will be ‘ready’. As we sell our lamb directly to customers, this insight is an important guide to monitor orders.
There are different ways of grouping sheep or cows. I run most of my ewes by age groups, but every farm is different. Group the animals to how you manage them. That's the flexibility of the app. It allows you to go into a lot of detail or you can keep it very simple. Also, don’t expect instant results. It’s going to take time to draw conclusions that will impact future farm decisions.