We asked Whole Health Agriculture Livestock Health Advisor and shepherdess, Jane Dobson, to explain her innovative approach to maintaining the well being of her flock of rare breed sheep.

Our farm

Our farm, Broadstone Rare Breeds, is at the foot of the Preseli Hills in Pembrokeshire. Here I farm 70+ pedigree Longwool sheep for their fleece, meat, sheepskin rugs and to sell on as breeding stock. Older ewes (over six years old) represent around 20% of the flock and 95% of the ewes were born on the holding. Their health status is high so they generally only need to be supported with treatments such as homeopathy, herbs, vibrational essences or essential oils at season changes, when accidents occur or if individuals become ill.

Your elders know best!

For me, working with older stock is a joy and makes my job really easy. They have built up natural immunity to the particular challenges of the farm’s environment which is passed on to their lambs. This natural immunity means that they are rarely unwell and are productive for longer.

The older ewe understands the farm’s routines, what is expected of them and will ‘ask’ for help if it’s needed. This is especially important during lambing time.

A Devon and Cornwall Longwool lamb

Lambing – been there, done that!

During lambing, the older girl has ‘been there before’. She is a reliable mother and enough trust has been built up that any birthing problems are easily sorted without us all getting stressed. Luckily, my use of homeopathy means that lambing complications are few. The older ewe knows post-lambing routines so any activity such as transfer into pens, tagging and moving into the field is much more straightforward.

Natural flock hierarchy

Sheep are naturally social animals and live in a hierarchical system. Youngsters learn from older siblings, ‘aunts’ and ‘grandmothers’. For this reason, I run all the sheep together and only remove entire ram lambs from the group when they are five months old.

Natural weaning

On our holding, we never separate lambs from their mothers for weaning. This job is best done by their dam and is less stressful for all parties. I have also found that mastitis problems are zero when natural weaning is done.

Older mothers wean their lambs much sooner than younger ewes and so their body score (how we assess the health of our animals) rises quickly ready for autumn tupping (mating).

Ewe lambs are separated from their dams for the first time in the autumn when their mothers return to the ram. By this time they are practically self-sufficient, so stress is minimised. This group of youngsters are accompanied by two special ladies.

Fly and Hope – our special ladies

Fly is a Devon and Cornwall Longwool. She’s 13 years+ and retired two years ago after having nine sets of lambs. Fly is a character! She is energetic, loves her family and has no problem disciplining anyone else’s lamb!


Her friend Hope (nine years old) is a Leicester Longwool. She entered retirement this year. Hope is a quiet ewe, but together this dynamic duo will do a great job with their ewe lamb charges.


Fly and Hope will head the ‘team’ as we progress into the winter months when the lambs will have new experiences such as eating hay from a hay rack and being housed. By their presence, Fly and Hope will help the youngsters feel secure; they will guide and keep the ewe lambs company.

In the spring they will all go out together and will be joined by the new lambs and their mothers.

The benefits of matriarch power

Having matriarchs within a flock is extremely powerful. They provide leadership, emotional stability and education to younger animals. I believe this contributes to healthy, productive animals and a peaceful farm.

Broadstone Rare Breeds Farm is owned by Jane and Patrick Dobson and is situated at the foot of the Preseli Hills in Pembrokeshire. They farm 36 acres on which they raise sheep and chickens. The flock and land are managed by Jane who has a background in Nursing and psychology. She also has 20 years experience in the fields of Essence, Crystal, Colour and Homeopathic therapies. Jane has completed a farm homeopathy course and is a Whole Health Agriculture Livestock Health Advisor. Working alongside Jane are collies, Mollie and Abby. Patrick is a web developer. He supports Jane’s farming work with his IT expertise and also helps with land and animal husbandry.

The land is farmed in a biodynamic and organic way that supports nature and the environment. The livestock is raised using organic standards with homeopathy supporting their well being. Since moving to the farm in 2017 they have been steadily getting to know the land and making some changes. Planting many trees and introducing hedgerows are two of the biggest improvements. This is an ongoing project. Each year they plant between 100-300 trees and hedging plants. This will benefit the environment by providing habitats for wildlife and will also provide a water capture effect which will prevent water runoff and soil erosion.

Links to treatments mentioned and other blogs of interest

Visit the Modalities section on the website for more information about the treatments outlined above and how to find a practitioner or vet:

For similar blogs see the following: 

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The veterinary Surgeon’s Act 1966 restricts the treatment of animals (usually other than your own*) by anyone other than a qualified vet. Always consult a veterinary surgeon if you are concerned about your animal’s health. *For full details visit the RCVS website