The temperature has risen, the sun has appeared, the ground has begun to dry up and lambing is finished here at Shandford.

This year we faced many hard days during lambing, mainly as a result of the horrendous snow that hit the UK in March. The snow and drifting was ferocious, chilling and deadly for young livestock entering the world and saw many farmers suffer huge loses with very little ability to prevent it.

We are fortunate in that we had access to our two large lambing sheds that can hold upwards of 500 ewes at a time. But we too, like many others, had to utilise every other available indoor space to ensure nothing was out during the worst of the weather.

We like to allow our lambs to bond, suckle and gain strength for approximately 24-48 hours before they head outdoors. This year however, saw them in for as long as was required and simply until the fields had turned from white back to green. As a result, ewes have consumed double the amount of silage in comparison to previous years due to the weather, but thankfully we had this available which in turn has enabled the ewes to maintain strength and produce the adequate amount of milk needed to support their lambs.

With the lambs being inside for longer, we have been able to ring and tag them inside too. We use a hand held reader that links with the computer to record the breed, sex and number of lambs produced by each ewe. We can then view the history of each ewe and see how many lambs etc she has produced successfully in total. It is also helpful in indicating the sex of lambs produced for the whole year and interestingly this year it is almost 50:50 male to female ratio.

Once the weather settled and we felt confident young lambs could thrive outside with their mothers, they were initially put out onto silage fields. All lambs are now a little older and have been moved up onto higher ground to allow the grass to grow ready for making silage.

This move always coincides with preparations for shearing, which takes place in a few weeks time. It is also the time we have to check the sheep regularly as they can become itchy and uncomfortable as temperatures rise, roll onto their backs to scratch themselves with some getting stuck in the process. If they are on their backs for any length of time they can choke or suffocate, which is most frustrating when it can be so easily prevented.

Our spring calvers started calving on February 28, with 87% being calved inside within the first five weeks. Our next batch started this week, but will calve outside, with the exception of a batch of strong 24-month-old heifers that calve inside for close monitoring via security and calving cameras which are proving to be most helpful. These provide a very clear picture and we are able to monitor the cows from afar, only interrupting them if we feel there is a need, thus minimising stress. We have one main computer screen with the addition of I-Phones and I-pads linked to the cameras so that we can check for updates where ever we are. My six-year-old daughter also checks the camera in the house and informs me if there is something happening! This is most certainly where new technology comes in to its own and can be a great aid.

We are also delighted that all of our cows and calves are now out to grass as they thrive best outdoors, allowing us to concentrate on other projects. We have however, had to supplement them with silage and turnips as the grass has been slower to come through this year.

Our next plan is to get young stock out to grass while our Charolais and Simmental cross steers that are over 480kg will be kept inside for finishing. All Aberdeen Angus steers and non-breeding heifers will be finished on grass with the first put away in September.