Farmer Focus: I managed 31 days off last year

Attending the Nuffield Farming conference has become an annual event. It’s something to look forward to in the dead of winter.

It’s good to meet up with friends and meet new folks and hear what the returning scholars have learned during their travels.

It’s not often I come home after a trip south and am thankful for the weather conditions in Orkney.

The weather has been very changeable in December, which is probably one of the reasons our weaned calves got pneumonia the week before Christmas.

Out of 22 replacement heifers, 10 of them needed treatment. 

See also: Q&A: Pneumonia in calves and how to combat it

Amazingly, within four days they had their appetite back and by a week you wouldn’t know anything had ever been wrong, so I hope they continue to thrive.

The main job for December was getting all the cattle through the race to clip their tails, give them a pour-on, fluke drench and a mineral bolus.

A few of the in-calf heifers have got ringworm this year, so I have given them some extra copper to see if it helps.

I was told many years ago there is a connection between copper deficiency and ringworm, so time will tell.

I’ve said before in this column that I am a record keeping/benchmarking geek.

In 2018, I started keeping a time sheet of the hours I work to settle an argument with a friend who is an agricultural contractor.

He was keen to prove how much cheaper clamp silage is to make compared to my system with bales and wanted to know how many hours I spent working with bales.

So, for 2019 I worked 6.2 hours/day and had 31 days off.

Farming has always been a balance between business and a way of life and always will be.

A farm is a great place to work and bring up a family.

So, as we head into a new year, I hope we can shout louder about the positives in our industry and not waste too much time thinking about the things that we have little control over. Happy New Year!

Steven Sandison farms 100 Simmental and Salers-cross cows on the Orkney Islands in partnership with his wife, Lorraine. They have a small flock of sheep and grow 8ha of spring barley. Making the most of grass is a priority.