Farmer Focus Livestock: Weather is a challenge for Alistair Mackintosh

The weather has been a problem for us, with frost and ice proving challenging. My impression of Disney’s Bambi on ice every time I went across the yard soon became tiresome and, sometimes, painful.

The untreated back roads were treacherous and it was difficult for feed wagons to make deliveries. I’m sure I could have put more salt on the roads with a salt dish than what the council managed to accomplish.

Feeding stock and thawing pipes took up most of the day. Feeding proved dangerous as Lee found out, when the tractor lost grip and overturned as he was feeding sheep. Fortunately, he was unharmed and the tractor will hopefully be repaired. It goes to show that regardless of whether you have a four-wheel-drive or not, without grip you are just as vulnerable as Bambi.

After the great freeze, we are now experiencing the great thaw: burst pipes everywhere and flooded sheds. Needless to say, you never have the right tool to mend the pipe and you can never find the key to turn the stock cock off when you need it.

We have scanned ewes and results are promising. Even with more ewes, the results indicate there are a higher percentage of lambs for every ewe. Barren ewes will be sold as prices are high and there is no need to give any second chances. Despite snow and frost, ewes are much fitter than they have been in previous years. I’ve taken delivery of sugar beet, which will be fed ad-lib in the hope of maintaining condition until lambing time.

Hilary Benn’s blue print for food policy up to 2030 recognising food supply as important must be seen as positive. However, let’s ensure he walks the walk instead of talks the talk.

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