With hundreds of sheep now on the estate, we are so happy to have our full time Shepherd Marcus on-board. We chat to him to find out a little more about what life as a shepherd looks like:
How did you get into this career?
I have always enjoyed working outside and with animals, starting out as a gamekeeper on an estate. A few years and a couple of estates down the line, I then decided to go self employed as a freelance agricultural worker which I where I began to work with more and more sheep. For three lambing seasons I worked on a farm helping to lamb 1600 ewes.
How long have you been working as a Shepherd at Chedington?
When the opportunity arose to become a full-time shepherd here at Chedington, I couldn’t turn down the offer, I started in October 2020.
How has the role been so far, any highlights?
Taking on a flock of sheep that you don’t know the history of has its challenges, but hopefully with the right breeding, the only way is up. I have enjoyed getting to know the flock and the land, and developing plans for the future.
What are you going to be working on in the next year / five years?
Over the next 1-5 years the aim is to build up our flock of Dorset’s to around 250 breeding ewes of which the bulk will hopefully lamb in September. Those that don’t get in lamb will go back to the ram in November to lamb alongside the commercial breed and cluns in April. At the moment we have around 400 breeding ewes of which 240 are cluns. The aim is to increase this April lambing group to around 8-900.
Can you tell us about Wren the Sheepdog, how long has she been with you and how do you go about training etc?
Wren is your typical crazy collie. She is 1/4 kelpie 3/4 border collie. I have had wren from a puppy and she is now four. Wren had natural genes for wanting to herd sheep which made training a lot easier. As with any puppy training took time and effort but that has certainly paid off as I couldn’t do the job without her. If she’s not working with sheep she is wanting to play with a ball or stick, then at home she spends her time watching the chickens in the run waiting to round them up.
What does a typical day look like for you?
Every day is different. Even though the sheep are checked every day, there is always something that may need to be done. Come rain or shine the sheep still need looking after. Be it moving an electric fence to moving the sheep to a new field or general routine vaccinations that need to be done, there is always something to do!
What are your most and least favourite things about your job?
Although it may not seem like it with all the very long days and nights, lambing is one of my favourite parts of the job. Bringing new life and seeing how the efforts of the last seven months (pre pregnancy and through pregnancy) have paid off with the lambs that are being born. But as the saying goes “you have livestock, you got dead stock” which unfortunately is the least favourite part of the job but sadly not all can be saved.
Would you recommend this career to youngsters, and if so, do you have any advice?
I think more youngsters should be given the chance to learn more about farming and where their food comes from and how it is produced. It isn’t a 9-5 job and you have to take the rough with the smooth but I always look on the bright side of being lucky enough to work outside and enjoy what I do.