Spring has finally sprung on the Black Isle, with the weather over the past week feeling much more seasonal than it had been, with jumpers, jackets and woolly hats still being required through the first week of May.

Cereal drilling was delayed by a few weeks due to wet, cold weather for much of early April, but we eventually got finished up on the 25th with spring oats.

We decided not to roll a lot of the spring barley crops when our end rigs suffering dreadfully last year due to a wet spell post-drilling, but, we might still roll some of the stonier fields now that the barley is well through, but, it will depend on whether we get an opportunity to do so or not.

Spring barley crops do have a much improved emergence though compared to last year, and now the weather has warmed up they are coming along well, with the majority having received their top dressing of nitrogen this week. As soon as we finished drilling cereals, we moved straight into harvesting, with around 200t of carrots lifted five days a week. Carrot drilling is due to start on Friday too, so that will continue to keep us busy over the next few weeks.

We have just sown two acres of fodder beet but due to a sprayer breakdown and catchy weather haven’t been able to get the pre-em herbicide on yet, which is probably quite critical for good establishment. Hopefully we will still manage – if we can get the part for the sprayer!

Lambing finished up on May 6, and I am really happy with how it has gone when they produced a 185% crop – now to keep them all alive! This is our second year of lambing without Spectam, and instead using a probiotic squirted into the lambs mouths. With just shy of 500 lambs born indoors, I had zero cases of watery mouth which I put down to shed hygiene, good colostrum management, ewes being in good condition, and using the Provita lamb response probiotic. All triplet lambs were tubed with replacement colostrum to supplement them and one lamb removed after 24 hours, to either a foster mother or the pet pen.

I have had around 10 cases of joint ill in lambs, though all have recovered after receiving seven days of treatment with pen-strep, I don’t find anything else works for treating joint ill anti-biotic wise, and the use of a whiteboard is very useful in the shed to tick off each day the lamb gets its injection.

I will be starting vaccinating lambs with their first dose of Ovi-vac P next week, and applying Spot On as I have noticed lambs with a few ticks on them in fields where we would never previously have found ticks.

The two American vet students that we had for lambing have now left and they were both absolutely excellent. Both were found using the National Sheep Association ‘lambing list’ and I would definitely recruit lambing staff using this again.

My other lambing ‘help’ was in the form of my two, going on 22-year-old daughter, Ellie, who took great delight in popping water bags as ewes were lambing and pulling out lambs. Looks like I can start planning my retirement!