It has been a challenging couple of months thanks to the snow and rain. Straw is now in tight supply but should last to the end of the season without the need to buy-in.

Our stores of haylage and treated straw are getting low so we secured silage locally to help stretch out our own.

Unfortunately the Easter weather looks to be unsettled but hopefully short lived. Calving has been steady and beginning to pick up following a slow start. We are now close to the half way


Following a successful trip to the Stirling bull sales we purchased two Charolais bulls from Esmor Evans' Meardy herd and plan to introduce them to our herd this spring.

With the days stretching we are aiming to get back to ploughing this week as over the next month we will start sowing. We plan to split the cropping acres this year between both the Concerto and Laureate spring barley varieties.

Our cattle courts have all been mucked and hopefully that will keep them low until after sowing is finished.

Our new shed is now up after taking only four weeks to erect by Peter Milton and his team. We are very happy with it and are already seeing its benefits having moved all of the cows still to calve into it giving them more space. We are also starting the lean-two which ties the shed to the neighbouring one. Within this, we plan to house our new handling area which during calving will connect into the calving pens and once complete will make handling the cows and calves much easier.

In the run up to calving we upgraded our camera systems within the sheds. We used a local company iProtech to install the units. This allows us to view inside all of our sheds and outdoor corral via five cameras working on infrared vision at night and full HD during the day.

Up until now the network utilised the internet but this could be unreliable at times due to our local speed availability. The upgrade now uses transmitters which send the live streaming direct to our homes which has improved the system greatly whilst still allowing us to view the cameras through the internet when we're away from home.

We have had our first sale of store cattle for the year at Thainstone, with two lots sold and another group selling this Friday. Both lots held solid weights and sold well.

The first group of 100 was a mix of stots and heifers with an average age of 10 months and average weight of 450kg with the top weight of 550kg. Our top price on the day was £1260 with an overall average of £1127 – needless to say a smile crossed my face that day!

Heading now into one of our busiest times in the year and hoping that the ground starts to warm up a bit. We start to spread our first application of fertiliser around now, usually a hundred weight just to let the grass get away and then we top-up over the grazing season.

The next week is going to be spent getting the drill ready for sowing and catching up on tagging and de-horning calves so we are ready to put the cows and calves outside as soon as the weather improves and the grass gets going.

* Murdoch Duncan farms in partnership with his parents a 1,800 acre mixed beef and sheep unit in Aberdeenshire. Running a 330-suckler cow herd and 350-ewe flock. Along with growing 700 acres of combinable crops.