Early-born lamb due April 1 leaves Cornwall farmers feeling foolish

Shepherds on Britain’s most southerly farm were left feeling foolish after their first lamb of the year was born three weeks early.

Rona and Nevil Amiss, who farm the National Trust-owned Tregullas Farm on Cornwall’s Lizard Point, had been expecting their flock to start lambing on 1 April – April Fools’ Day.

But the couple’s plans were left in tatters when the first lamb was born on the farm last Tuesday, after a ram struggled into the ewe’s field last October.

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Farmers’ daughter Elsa Amiss, 18, with the first lamb born at Tregullas Farm, Cornwall – mainland Britain’s most southerly farm. CREDIT: Ben Birchall/PA Wire. For more pictures: Press Association (A ANIMALS Lambs)

Rona Amiss, tenant farmer at Tregullas, said: “Normally lambing begins on 1 April, but like all best laid plans it often doesn’t quite work out that way.

“Back in October one lively ram escaped and walked round the cliff path to the opposite end of the farm and got in with the ewe.”

The hardy Lleyn-cross lambs at Tregullas spend most of their lives outside and are fed entirely on grass or silage.

“It’s a sustainable way of farming that suits the mild climate of the Lizard Peninsula,” Rona said.

“If we calve and lamb in April as the grass is growing at its best we can match the needs of the livestock without having to resort to bought-in expensive feeds.”

Tregullas has won two National Trust Fine Farm Produce Awards for its lamb. Farmers Rona and Nevil Amiss, whose five children help out on the farm including 18-year-old daughter Elsa, have worked to improve the farm for rare wildlife such as the crow-like Cornish Chough.

Rona said: “Having a good rotation of sheep, cattle and arable around the farm means we are increasing the opportunities for wildlife to thrive. The jigsaw of habitats that this creates means a mix of food sources for our numerous birds, especially the iconic Cornish Chough.”

The National Trust acquired Tregullas Farm, which sits in the shadow of Lizard Point lighthouse, in the 1990s.

Lead ranger Justin Whitehouse added: “Tregullas is a flagship farm for the Trust, showing how farming with high conservation standards can be profitable and sustainable, producing quality local produce – and benefiting wildlife and people.”

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Meet ‘Doris’ the rare-breed lamb born at Sutton Hoo as the winds raged

A rare-breed lamb born last night as yesterday’s storm blew through has been christened ‘Doris’ by National Trust rangers at Sutton Hoo, Suffolk.

Born in the early hours of Friday, the lamb is the first of the year for the flock and the first pure-breed Manx Loaghtan to join the sheep cared for by National Trust shepherd Andrew Capell.

The flock, which spend most of the year on the Orford Ness National Nature Reserve, move to drier ground over the winter months, with many of the expectant ewes moving to Sutton Hoo.

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Doris the lamb. Credit: National Trust

Andrew, 52, said: “She’s definitely an early arrival, but looking really healthy and is the first of several pure Manx-Loaghtans we’ll be welcoming this spring. She’s only six hours old but already she’s very lively.

“After all the drama of the weather with Storm Doris, there really was only one name we could choose for her.”

Andrew and sheepdog Kite look after the Orford Ness flock which includes a number of rare breeds, all chosen for their ability to thrive in the challenging coastal landscape.

Known as a ‘conservation grazing’ flock, the sheep are hard workers on the Ness, moving from field to field where they keep the grass well mown and generate ideal conditions for other wildlife to thrive.

Part of the flock is currently grazing the burial mounds at Sutton Hoo, where in 1939 archaeologists discovered the remains of a spectacular boat burial dating back to the seventh century.

Archaeological survey work taking place later in the year means that the grass needs to be shorter. And, because of the historical significance of the mounds, heavy mechanical mowers cannot be used.

Andrew, who has spent 36 years as a shepherd, added: “We have another 25 ewes expecting, some are Manx Loaghtans and some are White-faced Woodlands.

“Doris will be spending her first day in a pen so we can make sure she’s well, but then she’ll be out greeting visitors to Sutton Hoo over the next few weeks.

“I’ll be down at Sutton Hoo tomorrow morning to make sure she’s got a full belly. And if the weather’s fine we’ll introduce her to the rest of the flock.”

All the lambs born at Sutton Hoo this spring will stay there until April, when they will move back to Orford Ness.

VIDEO: Meet Gavin, the one-horned ram helping rare plants on the Great Orme farm

THREE HUNDRED sheep make their home on a wind-swept clifftop in north Wales – but a new arrival has left the headland’s rams feeling sheepish.

20-month-old Gavin was bought by Great Orme farmer Dan Jones and charity Plantlife in November to breed with his 70 Herdwick-breed sheep.

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Meet Gavin, the one-horned Herdwick ram. He belongs to Dan Jones, farmer at Parc Farm on the Great Orme in North Wales. 

Watch the full video of Gavin on the Great Orme.

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Swimming cows make a dash for island pastures on Strangford Lough

The grass was definitely greener on the other side of the lough for a herd of cattle in County Down, when they attempted to swim back to their island grazing pastures last month.

Eight cows took to Northern Ireland’s Strangford Lough after their return to the mainland from a stint grazing on Darragh Island.

Farmers have moved cattle between the islands on Strangford Lough for generations, in the pursuit of fresh grass.

And National Trust rangers regularly transport sheep and cattle between the 12 islands the conservation charity cares for on the sea lough.

Will Hawkins, National Trust ranger at Strangford Lough, said: “We had a tricky job getting them on to the barge. We left a group of cows on the mainland and we were just coming back with the others when a few of the cows decided to swim back to the boat.”

After a few seconds in the water they changed their minds and headed back to the mainland.

“The cows like being on the islands,” Will said. “Other than a couple of kayakers there’s nobody else on the islands. The cows are free to roam.”

The grazing cattle help rangers encourage wildflowers to grow on the islands.

“The way the cows graze and ‘poach’ the ground with their hooves means we get flowers like dog violet coming through.

“It’s like a sea of purple on some of the islands in the spring.”

The cattle belong to the Dines family, one of the last Strangford Lough farming families to graze their animals on islands.

PICTURES: Restoring Stonehenge’s chalk grassland in world heritage site’s 30th year

As Stonehenge celebrates 30 years as a World Heritage Site, National Trust rangers and volunteers in Wiltshire are working closely with farmers to restore the chalk grassland landscape that would have been familiar to the monument’s original builders.

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National Trust – Farming in the Lakes

Mike Innerdale, Assistant Director of Operations in the North, said:

The majority of our farms in the Lakes are leased on multi-generational or life-time tenancies (51 out of 91) under specific legislation. The rest of our tenancies are offered for an average minimum length of 15-years, which is three times longer than the national average and goes well beyond the 10-year minimum the Tenants’ Farmers Association has been calling for across the industry.

We want to maintain and  build strong, long-term relationships with our farm tenants in the Lakes: they need to know we’re committed to them and supporting them –  so that they have the confidence to invest in their business.  We will be writing to all our tenants in the Lakes to reassure them of our long-term commitment to hill farming and hill  farmers. We are also discussing with farming representatives about how we make the tenancy renewal process as fair, transparent and open as possible. We want long-term tenants and there’s no reason why tenancies wouldn’t be renewed if both parties are happy.

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Farmer moves into £1m coastal farm – for just one pound a year

SHEPHERD Dan Jones and his young family have moved in to their ‘dream farm’, the National Trust’s £1 million Parc Farm on the Great Orme, North Wales.

Ceri and Dan Jones and their sheepdogs move into Parc Farm. Credit Richard Williams.JPG

Ceri and Dan Jones and their four sheepdogs, Bet, Tian, Nel and Floss are the new National Trust tenants at Parc Farm on the Great Orme. Credit Richard Williams

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