In Your Field: Dan Jones - 'As I write, I get a message of sheep being bitten by a snake'

It’s hard to believe 2023 has arrived already. Last year rolled by quickly from month to month and season to season.

clock • 3 min read
In Your Field: Dan Jones - 'As I write, I get a message of sheep being bitten by a snake'

Its hard to believe 2023 has arrived already. Last year rolled by quickly from month to month and season to season.

A rare opportunity to reflect over the past 12 months was viewing a programme made by S4C, shown over the festive period, documenting a year in the life of farming Y Gogarth Fawr The Great Orme.

Having cameras come and go over the past year became part of the working day and getting myself and the farm looking anywhere near TV ready quickly reverted into real life.

The programme highlighted how farming and the environment can work together and what a unique and spectacular place we are privileged to work and live in.

For the first time since farming The Orme Id arranged winter grazing for the ewe lambs at a local dairy farm.

Over previous years, lambs have been turned out to the hill but this year I felt they needed a bit extra.

However, the dairy farm has also succumbed to the knock-on effect of the dry summer and lack of winter fodder and understandably decided to save the grazing for their own stock. Plan B was to buy in cake at 400/tonne and winter them myself.

Even though I had fluked, wormed and mineral drenched, they were still losing condition. Having exhausted all other possibilities I decided to faecal egg sample.

The results came back: resistance to both worm and fluke drench. A vet prescription and the lambs are looking much better, and the 400/t for cake was much easier to swallow for both the lambs and my bank balance.

From a business/farming viewpoint, Im not one for New Years resolutions but instead view this time of year as an opportunity to consider the upcoming challenges.

I think for my business and for many others, the toughest challenge will be rising input costs. Hopefully the increase will be slight, rather than the significant jump we saw in 2022.

Speaking to the arable farmers I know, they have enjoyed a year of buoyant prices and some bumper yields. I do however wonder if this is a result of inputs bought before prices rocketed. All the same, they seem confident.

In the livestock sector, I see particular challenges.

Winter forage is in short supply and we face high feed prices, endless energy hikes, fluctuating markets, changing government support and extreme weather patterns. The helping hand of an early spring and a decent summer would be most welcome.

Bringing additional chaos to Park Farm is the arrival of Floki, the next generation of working sheepdogs. At 10 weeks old, hes already part of the team.

As I come to the end of sharing some of my thoughts with you, Ive had a message reporting a sheep bitten by a snake. This is a new one, even for The Orme.

Im abandoning my article to my wife, who is chief proofreader. You know how the saying goes, behind every good man is a good woman.

Happy New Year and heres to a prosperous 2023.

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