In the spring, we had ever hopeful for a warm and prosperous summer here in Scotland – but the weather of late has been unusually hot and dry in comparison to the moderate summer climate we are used to experiencing.

At the beginning of July, we faced the task of gathering our large flock of Blackface wethers grazing out on the heather hill. These were to be sheared and treated with Dysect. By using the sheep as 'tick mops', the aim is to keep tick numbers under control and allow young chicks from ground-nesting birds to thrive and reach maturity.

Due to the extreme heat, we gathered the hills in the very early mornings, just after sunrise. This helped to lower the risk of heat stroke for the sheep and dogs as the temperature was still relatively cool.

The impact of the heat is also affecting our fields. As can be easily seen across the country, grass is struggling to grow and flourish due to the lack of rain and has become very dry and stunted.

Due to this, we have weaned our ewes and lambs 3-4 weeks earlier than normal. This has allowed us to sort through the ewes and identify the healthy stock which will be kept for the up coming breeding season.

We have treated those with Dysect and they will graze the heather hill for the next couple of months to allow the lambs to benefit from what grass we still have available.

All of the lambs that have been weaned have been given boluses to support growth and the ewe lambs that will be kept for breeding have been selected. We hope to sell the prime lambs on a weekly basis through the fat ring in Forfar.

We have most of our cattle out on grass and they appear to be thriving in the sunshine, but to supplement our spring calving cows, we are providing ammonia treated straw that we had left over from last winter. The fields where these cows are grazing have very shallow soil on top of rock and areas have begun to burn up due to the extreme sun.

In an effort to aid performance in the calves, we have provided creep feeders with a homemade mix of Maxammon barley, dark grains and sugar beet pulp with Harbro Beef Max Rearer and Rumitec minerals. By allowing the calves access to the feeders, they should depend less on nourishment from their mothers which, in turn, should help the cows maintain condition.

We also have two batches of fattening cattle on grass. One group were spring-born 2017 heifers and the other Aberdeen-Angus cross steers. They have also received supplementary feeding of silage left over from last year. We hope this will allow them to fatten and finish before having to be brought inside.

Our first cut silage went well and this was definitely helped by the purchase of our new trailed Lely forage harvester. It processed three rows into one which saved a huge amount of time and the added bonus was that this was also completed by all of our own staff, with the exception of a tractor and rake from Neil Stewart, who did a great job.

Like many, we have not made our second cut of silage yet due to lack of rain. This will be taken when appropriate as we require more for feeding through the winter, however it will most likely be less than usual.

In a bid to compensate for this expected shortage, we have planted a mixture of Redstart and stubble turnips, which can be grazed by ewes, lambs or cows. Hopefully, this will provide good quality feeding for the winter ahead.