I am aware that we are in the fortunate position to be able to call upon the wisdom of three generations in the family business.

Our swede crop was late sown but had a good braird a couple of weeks ago and dry conditions allowed us to get some grass and rape seeds in. The forecast inspired a hay field to be cut, but a week of neither sun nor moisture didn’t progress either at speed. We got to within one good day of hay, but a catchy prediction from the weather app pushed for a decision: Stick (wrap it as good haylage), or Twist (risk another day).

I was pleased to have Dad’s reasoning: ‘the swede crop is more important and it definitely needs the rain – if you decide to leave the hay, you’re more likely to get the rain.’ We left it. It rained. The crop was baled and wrapped the next day before it got much moisture – and the turnips are powering on now.

Succession is something that I suppose my parents have been working on for a long time. What has sneaked up on me a bit is that our own kids are at the age when I was itching to know more about the business. Having recently looked through the accounts with our 15-year-old it became clear by his expression, as I tried to explain future Inheritance Tax risks, that his mother’s Yorkshire blood is running thick in his veins.

There has been a lot crammed into the second half of June and early July. We started off about a fortnight behind and I think we have almost caught up.

We have doubled up a lot of ewes and lambs after they got a first vaccination, so are in reasonably large mobs but still manageable in our yards. Two mobs of just over 200 ewes were shorn today and another similar day should finish them off before you are reading this.

We are taking part in a project to try and encourage the practice of ‘targeted selective treatment’ of worms in lambs. I think our role is to provide the sheep, the weights and play the role of a slightly sceptical and tech-wary sheep farmer – which I am quite comfortable in. The idea is that it’s only the under-performing lambs in a batch that need drenching which saves drench usage and slows down the development of wormer resistance.

Keen to get going, we ran the earlier born Texel lambs over the scales which (with the benefit of an EID reader and a smart yellow box) gives a weight gain from last weighing calculated immediately. An educated guess gave us 200grams per day as our target, and anything below that Debbie drafted off. I believe there is an App coming, because the proper system is a bit more complicated than this. Please note, the App won’t replace Debbie – only increase our reliance upon her!

The lambs were 12-weeks-old and it was twto weeks since their previous weight. The batch of 201 averaged 36.3kgs with a range of 18.5 to 51 (both of these individuals are special in their own way). Their weight gain was 370grams per day with a range of 0 to a whopping 810grams! There were 19 below target gain, which we drenched with what was their second dose after they all got a nematodirus treatment at about six-weeks-old. They are not on clean grazing and there has been no creep. We took individual FECs from the 19 and it turns out they were only hovering about 100 to 400 eggs per gram, so an average count would suggest no need to worm in any case. They are not on clean grazing and there has been no creep.

Yearling heifers were through the yards last week pulling out those for the bull. I find it a source of great pleasure that in two months at grass they can mature into proper cattle. A weight with a pour-on wormer confirms that Luing heifers have done about 40kgs over 60 days (0.8kg/d), taking them to 475kgs. This is comfortably over target for bulling weights and perhaps provides at opportunity to shorten the winter for them this back end.

Stock bulls are quietening down as we get through the second breeding cycle on cows, and we are making plans for a bit of a swap around for the third cycle just in case. Suckler herd efficiency is mostly a function of fertility – which for all the marginal gains is a cow thing. If it becomes a bull thing, then nothing else you can do matters – so swapping bulls becomes ‘risk management’ I suppose.

We are taking about half of the Lleyn shearling rams for inspection tomorrow. To become fully registered and able to be used for pedigree breeding, a Lleyn ram needs to pass the scrutiny of the breed society inspector. He is looking for both functional traits, like teeth and correctness of pasterns, and type traits which include some cosmetics such as nose colour pigment and freedom from brown hair.

Our breeding programme doesn’t fully align with the society standards and we will have rams in our sale that excel in some performance traits but won’t stack up cosmetically, so they get to stay at home tomorrow. Performance recording infers a willingness to improve (or change), whereas breed standards infer a need to stay the same.

Some things we want to change and other things we want to stay the same – breed standards are a good touch-stone to keep our ‘type’ on the right lines. I used to get very nervous about inspection day, but now almost all of our rams go commercially so it becomes less critical and more about pride.