Farmer Focus: Ewe scan distracts from tricky early calving

Despite winter bringing challenging weather, the ewes scanned fine. We had seven empties, 11 singles, 123 twins and 14 sets of triplets to give us 193%.

The remaining 26 hoggs were sold store to average £102.50. It’s earlier than we would normally sell the last of them, but with the weather being so poor and the trade buoyant, it was good to get them away.

See also: Advice on tackling scour during lambing and calving

About the author

Steven Sandison
Livestock Farmer Focus writer Steven Sandison farms 90 Simmental and Salers-cross suckler cows on the Orkney Islands in partnership with his wife, Lorraine, on 134ha (330 acres). They have a 150-ewe flock of Shetland cross Cheviot ewes. Maximising grass is a priority.
Read more articles by Steven Sandison

Usually, a few have lost a bit of wool and are itching by this time, but not this year. Thankfully, we didn’t have scab. Dipping all the sheep back in October has been really worthwhile.

Calving has started, but not very well. The first four cows to calve all had twins, but there are only four live calves, and one of them is fragile. Hopefully, by the time this is published, things will have settled down.

The Orkney Agricultural Discussion Society has just celebrated its centenary. The society holds 10 winter meetings and a summer trip each year.

At a dinner, held in Kirkwall to celebrate the milestone, several speakers told stories about a few of Orkney’s farming characters over the years.

This reminded me of one of our most famous characters, whom we will call Mr S. He was a livestock, machinery and fertiliser dealer who also drove taxis in his spare time.

The story goes that a well-dressed gentleman jumped into his taxi at Kirkwall airport and asked to be delivered to a certain address, which turned out to be Mr S’s house.

The gentleman got out, knocked on the door and waited a while. Looked in a few windows, but no one appeared. He went back to the taxi and owned up to the driver that he was from HMRC.

He only had one visit that day and was rather keen to find Mr S, having made the effort to come all the way to Orkney.

Mr S explained that the owner of the property was rarely home and was often away at auction sales on the Scottish mainland.

Rather reluctantly, the well-dressed gentleman got back in the taxi and was taken to the airport to await his flight, having paid Mr S his fare!