The International Sheep Dog Trials, held in mid- September were most definitely a highlight of the year for us.

It was the first time the trials had been held in Angus in 61 years and we felt very privileged to be asked to host them. It was a very busy few weeks leading up to the three-day event but, very worth while and rewarding in turn.

Since then, however, we have been kept busy as we head towards winter and the shorter days. Autumn has seen us prepare the spring calves for weaning and this involved giving them a dose of Rispoval vaccine, wormer and a bolus. The calves also get their backs clipped short, plus ears and tails tidied up to help with hygiene and prevent pneumonia.

We have had a few visitors to the farm recently and they have seen the two-year-old heifers with calves at foot. Some had asked why I didn’t calve the heifers three weeks before the cows, so that I could get them back in calve early with the cows.

I attended a Beef Efficiency meeting and it was suggested that we shorten our calving period, yet also calve our heifers three weeks before the cows. This would, therefore, mean extending the nine weeks back to 12 weeks.

I felt these were definite conflicting ideas and as soon as I got home I decided to look at some figures on the computer to try to reason if there was anything that could be done. The Aberdeen Angus cross heifers calved at two years old and had their second calf on average 364 days after this.

I then chose to look at the heifers 200-day weaning weight to gain an insight into how they were performing. The best heifer had an Angus calf and weaned at 393kg and the best cow had reared a Charolais cross steer weaned at 408kg. An overview showed that the Angus calves weaned at 310kg average and the Charolais calves at 332kg.

The spring calving cows have now all been scanned and blood samples taken for Johne's testing. It was a great scanning, with only 2% empty. They have been returned outside, with one lot grazing fodder beet and the other turnips, with daily shifts and access to under-sown barley straw, which was baled and wrapped behind the combine.

The same will be done to the summer calving cows with calves as has been with the spring ones. Any not in calve, will be sold.

We have separated the sheep into their different breeds for tupping. The tups started with a red crayon for one week, then this was changed to blue for a second week and finally changed to black for repeats.

The ewe lambs will have the tups in with them for a total of 21 days, with all tups being removed by the end of November. This allows us to have a gap of approximately two weeks before the summer cows start calving on the May 10.

Prime lambs have also been getting selected on a weekly basis, handled, weighed and sold live in L and S' Forfar Mart. We feel it is important to handle the lambs as there can be a huge difference even if they're the same weight on the scales.

The lambs that are left are heading onto stubble turnips and forage rape to graze for later finishing. They will be dosed for fluke as they have been blood tested and have shown signs of being exposed to fluke.

The ewes and tups will also be done as I feel given this current wet weather, this is something we should look at monitoring closely.