Lambing well underway at CAFRE’s Hill Farm Development Centre

Lambing at CAFRE’s Hill Farm Development Centre, Glenwherry is now well underway. Weather conditions have proved very favourable allowing ewes and lambs to be turned out to pasture within a few days of lambing.

The main focus at the CAFRE Hill Farm Development Centre is the integration of the livestock enterprises and environmental management. The farm is partially situated within the Antrim Hills Special Protection Area (SPA) for hen harrier and merlin.

Graeme Campbell, recently appointed Senior Beef and Sheep Technologist, CAFRE, Philip Milligan, Shepherd, Hill Farm Development Centre and UPLANDS students Matthew Clingen, Kathyrn Gibson and Alex Irvine

The Hill Farm Development Centre has the capacity to run up to 1100 breeding ewes producing ewe lamb replacements, store and finished lambs. The majority of lambs are finished at the CAFRE Dairy Centre with a small proportion sold as store lambs. The stratified sheep breeding programme consists of a hill flock of pure Blackface ewes and an upland flock of Texel/Blackface crossbred ewes. A number of Blackface ewes are crossed to Swaledale to introduce hybrid vigour. The upland/crossbred flock is crossed with Texel, Meatlinc or Lleyn.

Lambing commenced on the 18th March 2019 with just over 500 ewes lambed to date. The pure Blackface flock scanned at 154% with the Upland/Crossbred flock scanning at 165%.

All lamb birth weights etc. are recorded through the Shearwell system to help monitor growth rates and performance throughout the year and to help select the best performing animals to be retained as breeding stock.

 

Educational Role

The Hill Farm Development Centre plays a key role through providing resource for the delivery of CAFRE education, training and Knowledge Technology Transfer (KTT) programmes to students, farmers and landowners. It is used extensively to demonstrate, profitable and sustainable livestock production while simultaneously seeking to improve habitat condition.

Students on the Foundation degree in Agriculture and Technology course and the BSc (Hons) Agriculture Technology course, (jointly delivered with Queen’s University Belfast), UPLANDS (Uniting the Production of Livestock and Nature Development for Sustainability) project are closely involved with the husbandry and management of the CAFRE Hill Farm Development Centre. Students gain valuable experience at lambing time. Students have full access to the recently constructed new sheep unit at the Hill Farm Development Centre and have the opportunity to gain experience in relation to the innovative technologies included within the house.

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