SAC has published a series of advice notes on its website, aimed at farmers struggling with a shortage of feed, fodder and bedding or an uncertain lamb crop following the poor winter.
Coordinated by Graham Baird, at SAC’s Perth Vet Centre, SAC issued some of these advice notes during the worst of the winter’s storms. However, while the initial problems of feeding and watering stock or collapsing roofs brought their own pressures, there is likely to be a sting in the winter’s tail.
“We felt it was important to keep that early advice available”, says Graham Baird. “With feed and fodder costs climbing and several months of a Scottish spring still to get through, many farmers are worried about making food stocks last.
“Then there is the effect the stress of that winter may have placed on the stock. For example, there is concern some ewes may be approaching lambing in poorer condition than normal.”
This could affect the health of lambs and ewes, which might suffer twin lamb diseases and other nutritional disorders. Stock in poorer condition is also more susceptible to parasites and disease.
The advice on the website has been prepared by the team of SAC beef and sheep consultants, nutritionists and vets with funding from Scottish Government as part of its Animal, Welfare Advisory Activity. There is general information for all farmers and more specific advice for suckler beef and sheep producers.
According to Mr Baird, as the year progresses more information will be added to the page.
“No one can predict what might come to light several months down the line, but we would hope to address it. If we are to get more of these bad winters, this kind of information will continue to be useful and may help producers prepare better”.
• To read the advice go to www.sac.ac.uk/badwinter on the SAC website.