Farmer Focus: Lambing and calving bring more surprises

I remember writing last month that calving hadn’t started very well. Thankfully, it settled down and we are now three-quarters through.

We have had 10 sets of twins so far, which is a record here, although not all of them have survived.

We start feeding the twin-carrying ewes about six weeks before lambing and take them inside a week or so later.

See also: Farmer Focus: Ewe scan distracts from tricky early 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

The sheep were fine until we gave them their clostridial and pasteurellosis vaccine. A few days later, some went down with lambing sickness and one ewe lost her lambs.

The vet came and took blood samples, and advised us to increase the feeding, which we have done.

After a very wet winter, March has brought some good days. It’s nice to get back on the land and plough and spread slurry.

Getting out with the plough in good conditions is like therapy if things have been more challenging with the cattle and sheep.

You might be glad to know that this is my last Farmer Focus article. It hardly seems like five years since I wrote my first one, but it is.

I would like to thank Farmers Weekly for giving me the opportunity to write and Michael Priestley for his help over that time.

Thank you to readers who have tapped me on the shoulder at shows and bull sales and others who have messaged with questions or a bit of banter.

With the power of social media, I soon learned that the banter could become fairly brutal, but such is the world we live in.

Most of all, I would like to thank John Yeomans – who put my name forward in the first place – and John Moar, who have both given me feedback over the past five years.

John Moar is a good friend and has read Farmers Weekly for as long as I can remember.

When I told him almost 10 years ago that I had been awarded a Nuffield scholarship, his reply was:

“There has been quite a few Nuffielders gone on to write in Farmers Weekly. Does that mean we will have to suffer seeing you in FW as well as visits in person?”