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.
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.”