Spring lambing is under way across the country, with farmers watching over their sheep at all hours of the day and night. Having a light and airy environment for shepherd and sheep is therefore preferable – if not always possible.
Thankfully, the days of lambing in a dark and stuffy shed is a thing of the past at Upcott Farm, Nomansland, Devon, thanks to the installation of an innovative ventilated wall.
When Andy and Janet Dale moved to Upcott Farm four years ago, they were faced with upgrading six of the old farm buildings.
“We knew it was going to be a big job, and as we needed more storage and a temporary lambing shed, the easiest route was to start by putting a lean-to lambing area on a newly-erected workshop,” said Mr Dale.
“The original intention was to Yorkshire board it, but then I discovered Highlight metal wall sheets,” added Mr Dale.
With tiny perforated holes creating a 25% void, Highlight allows light and air to pass through, while protecting against wind and rain.
“It’s really done the job – the shed is a lot lighter and airier than it would be with Yorkshire boarding, so it is ideal for the livestock.”
Obviously cost is always an important consideration. And while the metal sheeting worked out marginally more expensive than boarding, the cost of erection was significantly lower, as it arrived in measured lengths and just needed fixing in place.
Mr Dale used panelled gates along the side and front of the building, with the wall sheets above that to the eaves. Lambing his 100 Wiltshire Horn ewes indoors from early April to mid-May, he found the shed a far nicer environment last year, and is already using it again. “With the wet weather, we’ve brought the sheep in earlier than usual, so they’re all housed now,” he said.
“We don’t need to put the lights on until a lot later in the evening, and when we bed up with straw the dust dissipates far more quickly – you really can feel the ventilation working. Our vet is very impressed with it – it almost feels like an open shed with just a roof.”
With 40 Dexter suckler cows as well as the growing sheep flock, Mr and Mrs Dale are in the process of improving the remaining buildings and plan put up a new one later this year. “We’ve refurbished a lean-to at the back of the cattle shed, and have used Highlight on that too,” said Mr Dale. “We keep the youngstock in there, and it would be really dark and airless without the wall sheeting – it’s amazing the difference it’s made.”
Having kept all the ewe lambs last year, the couple will be lambing a lot more sheep this spring, so are in need of extra space.
“Also, the longer the winter housing period the more important it is to have the healthiest environment possible,” said Mr Dale. “That’s why we’re going through the buildings one by one. We’re on wet, exposed ground here, so the stock have to be housed over the winter, and we’re very conscious about the need for adequate ventilation.”
For more information visit www.unitedroofingproducts.com or call 01884 839302.