CHRISTMAS OFFER Subscribe to Devon Life today CLICK HERE

Kieran Aylward tells us all about Lambing in Bishopsteignton, Devon

PUBLISHED: 16:45 04 March 2010 | UPDATED: 16:49 20 February 2013

Kieran Aylward tells us all about Lambing in Bishopsteignton, Devon

Kieran Aylward tells us all about Lambing in Bishopsteignton, Devon

It's late January and I'm fortunate enough to be working for Joe and Geoff Lang up on their picturesque sheep farm at Humber, Bishopsteignton.

Its late January and Im fortunate enough to be working for Joe and Geoff Lang up on their picturesque sheep farm at Humber, Bishopsteignton. Lambing started a fortnight ago so there is definitely no shortage of jobs but a quick check around the 450 pregnant ewes is a priority. The flock is separated into six pens in three buildings and a walk through each reveals any early morning deliveries and gives an idea of any animals in need of help. Its a wonderful morning to be outside working, dry and fresh, though the rising sun has turned the sky a light red, and as they say red sky in the morning, Shepards warning I suppose I cant count on the weather staying so kind! Still theres no time to worry about rain, the orphaned lambs need feeding.


New born lambs benefit from colostrum, the first milk from their mother rich in antibodies that can be absorbed through a lambs stomach wall in the first hours of life. The colostrum must be received quickly or the lambs stomach wall changes in nature and can no longer absorb the antibodies, leaving the lamb vulnerable to disease. As so often however, a good stockman must use their ingenuity and Geoff keeps frozen cow colostrum borrowed from a local dairy farmer so he can top up any lamb whose mother is slow in dropping her milk and at risk of depriving the lamb during the critical period. Most of these topped up lambs will quickly begin to rely on mother for nutrition as she recovers, but there will always be members of the flock whose mothers have insufficient milk, or whose mothers die after lambing and it is these lambs which must be carefully and regularly fed from the bottle. Such lambs are costly in time and in money but can become an asset if they can be fostered to a healthy ewe with only one lamb, the idea is to trick the new mother into thinking the fostered lamb is hers and allow it to feed. It is in a new mothers nature to nurture any small lamb as long as all seems well, so if we rub the wet new lamb on the bottle fed lamb and allow the ewe to clean them both off then with luck she will bond with, and rear both.


With lambs satisfied for now, its time to turn our attentions to the ewes. For most of the year the sheep are out in the pasture eating grass and the occasional bit of supplementary haylage, but as its easier to manage lambing with the flock indoors all food and clean bedding must provided. Haylage


is available all day but twice a day they are given a mixed ration of rolled barley peas and specialised sheep nuts. People tell me that sheep are stupid, and you wouldnt generally disagree but it doesnt take long for the sheep to associate the sound of a rustling bag with breakfast and turn from being shy and fleetly to motivated and almost aggressive. I learned this to my embarrassment as I was stampeded by 30 greedy ewes ending up on my backside in a muddy puddle! The barley and pea portion of the diet is grown on the farm, and is part of the reason for lambing so early in the year. Lambing in March would allow the ewes and lambs to be put out to pasture with the grass already growing beneath them but it just wouldnt allow time for arable side of the farm. By the time the ewes are fed and checked its time to see to the hungry and orphaned lambs, and then its a rush to check the stock still outside, move any electric fences, tend to the chickens have a quick tidy up and were back to feeding the lambs and ewes.


The suns almost down and has left the sky the same shade of red we were greeted with this morning, thankfully this mornings red sky never did deliver its bad weather, but Im sure that red sky at night Shepards delight will hold true! It feels like the day should be coming to an end, the stock is quite and the ewes wont need feeding again until morning but for Geoff work goes on into the night. The orphaned lambs need to feed every four hours, and the ewes need to be closely watched for signs of labour, it is important not to loose any lambs unnecessarily and also important not to miss an opportunity to foster an orphan to a suitable ewe. The farm sends most of its lamb to market but has a small amount butchered for customers in the village who rave about its quality and value and for the work and time that goes into just their birth let alone the rest of their life I have to say it seems amazing value.

0 comments

More from Out & About

Tue, 16:33

With breathtaking beaches, rolling countryside, stately homes and unique villages, it’s no wonder high-profile film productions flock to Devon - how well do you know the movies that have set up camp here however?

Read more
Tue, 15:17

Whether it’s on our beautiful beaches, in our magnificent moors or within our stunning stately homes, film productions are constantly setting up in Devon. Here are 16 that you might not know used the county as a filming location

Read more
Friday, October 26, 2018

From angry spirits to headless horses and ghoulish monks, Devon has more than a few supernatural stories to get your skin crawling. We have picked 11 haunted places in the county

Read more
Tuesday, October 23, 2018

October is the perfect time to discover the joys of Exmoor. Jennette Baxter of Visit Exmoor suggests five great ways to enjoy autumn on the moor

Read more
Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Wild camping can be one of the best ways to escape the crowds for a night or two and lose yourself in the landscape - SOPHIE PAVELLE chooses her five favourite places to ‘wild-life’ camp in Devon

Read more
Tuesday, October 9, 2018

From sandy beaches and lighthouse-topped cliffs to views of the Jurassic Coast, the Devon coastline offers many perfect locations for a seaside walk. We pick 10 of the prettiest routes to take

Read more
Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Take our quiz to find out how well you really know Devon

Read more
Tuesday, October 2, 2018

As the weather starts to warm up and the Devon countryside beckons, LIZZIE JANE of the National Trust in the South West offers plenty of walk ideas for you to try. Whether you want a relaxed Sunday stroll or a more strenuous hike, here are 10 walks across Devon (and beyond) to help you escape the crowds and head off the beaten track

Read more
Tuesday, September 25, 2018

The South West Coast Path is celebrating 40 years by calling on people to help raise £40,000. To show their support, teams from Devon’s top tourist attractions are preparing to take to the trail. CHRISSY HARRIS finds out more

Read more
Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Away from the hustle of places like Woolacombe and Ilfracombe, North Devon is peppered with tiny coves, empty beaches and wooded walks leading to secluded bays that feel a million miles away from the tourist trail. BECKY DICKINSON reveals her pick of the best kept secrets on the North Devon coast

Read more
Friday, September 14, 2018

As part of her regular series where she visits Devon’s best places for 24 hours, Lydia Tewkesbury has this time been to Sidmouth

Read more
Thursday, September 13, 2018

Ranging from rocky and windy walkways along the South West Coast Path to the sandy beaches on the picturesque coastline, the district of North Devon is one of the prettiest coastal areas in the South West of England. In no particular order, here are 10 of the prettiest villages in the district of North Devon

Read more
Tuesday, September 11, 2018

In Devon’s towns and cities there’s an awful lot you can do in just 24 hours. For her regular feature, Lydia Tewkesbury travels to see what you can do in a day in Kingsbridge

Read more
Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Villages in Devon are some of the prettiest in the South West. From beautiful little hamlets on the outskirts of the moors to seaside communities, we pick 10 villages in Devon you need to visit

Read more

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy



Topics of Interest

Food and Drink Directory

Subscribe or buy a mag today


subscription ad

Local Business Directory

Property Search