Spring has arrived at Writtle College with the beautiful 220-hectare campus starting to bloom and lambs gambolling at the farm!
Students at Further Education, degree and Masters levels have been helping with the six hour-long lambing shifts 24 hours a day and, so far, nearly 100 lambs have been born at the farm.
Farm Manager Katie Evans said: "The lambing season is going well and the students have taken the lead on their shifts, with me and the other farm staff on hand to advise. They have proven to be very responsible and have enjoyed the valuable experience, with many of them returning to the farm to see how the lambs are doing.
"We've so far had two-and-a-half full weeks of a lambing rota and we have a few ewes left to lamb."
Katie studied Marine and Freshwater Biology at university but her passion for shepherding was ignited when she joined the livestock team at Marsh Farm. The 31-year-old, from Wickford - who owns two sheepdogs, which she trials, and a horse - became a shepherd at the South Woodham Ferrers-based farm and then farm manager, before leaving to join Writtle College in October.
She said: "I'm really enjoying my time at Writtle College and the opportunities here. This year, we have introduced new lambing pens at the farm so students can see the best commercial practices. The pens also make it easier to check that the ewes are mothering well and makes teaching practicals simpler. The students are involved in everything related to shepherding, from basic husbandry to assisting with difficult births, and lambing provides interesting research possibilities for our degree and Masters students too.
"The lambs will stay in the lambing pens for 48 hours to 'mother up' - build a bond with their mothers. They will then move to nursery pens and the communal pens, where they will have to learn that, when their mother calls, they need to go back and that they need to find their mum if they want to feed. They then move onto a bigger nursery pen and finally out into the field. I'm just waiting for the weather to get warmer at night!”