There is no doubt outdoor lambing is much more economical in terms of time, labour, vet and meds and feed costs than indoor, but, it requires a lot of organisation on the run up to the event and a good hardy hill ewe flock.

For Andrew Cullens, his brother Ian and their father James, who manage the 3000-acre hill farm at Dollarbank, outside Dollar, in central Scotland, that means lambing 2100 breeding ewes which are mainly Blackface, with some Scotch Mules.

Dollarbank is also home to 80 suckler cows, a herd of limousin cross and charolais cross, most of which calve in the spring with calves sold in the Stirling marts at 6-8 months old.

Utilising the land to the best of its advantage, most of the farm’s 1900 Blackies are left on the hill throughout the year, with the exception of the older ewes and twins which are brought down to lower parks in time for lambing.

Andrew finds the hill ewes lamb better left out, benefitting from less human interference and not being disturbed by general activity on farm. Pre-tupping, they are brought in to better pasture to ensure they are in prime condition for the lambing period ahead. The 200 Scotch mules are kept on lower ground all year round.

For both breeds, Andrew uses the energy bucket approach to best utilise forage, with the hill ewes relying solely on grass and buckets for nutritional support. The hill location lends itself to this less manual approach and the Cullens find there are many additional advantages.

The flock has access to buckets all year round, with David Allan, Harbro sheep specialist having initially recommended Feet, Fertility and Worms before and during tupping to help combat foot health issues and to aid fertility.

In the run up to lambing, the farm moves on to Energyze Vitality buckets which are put out to provide instant energy for the flock and supplement any existing forage deficiencies. As much as 75% of birth mass develops in the final six weeks of pregnancy therefore it is crucial in this period, for both ewe and lamb health, that nutritional demands are met.

Andrew attributes his low incidence of twin lamb disease in recent years to feeding the Vitality bucket, with the key ingredient making the difference being propylene glycol, which maintains the ewe’s blood glucose levels and in turn helps to prevent the disease.

These buckets remain out throughout lambing, with Andrew waiting until grazing quality improves and ewe health is sufficient that supplementing is no longer required. Selling the majority of Mule ewe lambs in August, the Cullens keep a small number of Mules and all of the Blackface ewe lambs to replenish their homebred flock.

All other lambs are finished between June and March, aiming to get some away every week. To save grass on farm, hoggs are wintered on a nearby site, while the bottom end are finished on Maxammon Tri-Star 16% nuts, which Andrew finds are rumen friendly allowing the slower lambs to be safely pushed to achieve good finishing weights. The high energy properties of the compound have been designed to enable such animal to achieve optimum growth and performance with high feed efficiency.

The farm continually strives to improve both the quality as well as the quantity of their flock as they attempt to gain advantage in what is an uncertain and sometimes flat market. As Andrew prays for kind weather during this year’s lambing, he reiterates that his mantra of ensuring access to good quality grazing and mineral/energy buckets is fundamental towards a successful lambing.


A member of the Harbro Group, Harbro Ltd provides innovative high quality livestock solutions, focused on improving animal performance and its customers’ profitability. Privately-owned, the business trades throughout the UK and has developed an increasingly strong export market through its international division. With a manufacturing capacity of 270,000 tonnes from sites based in Scotland, the business produces high quality livestock feeds for beef, sheep, dairy, pig and poultry.

Running alongside its manufacturing prowess, Harbro also offers a convenient and efficient on-farm mobile milling, mixing and processing service, which allows farmers to utilise home-grown materials. With a fleet of 35 vehicles capable of producing both ruminant and mono-gastric diets, the service is fully supported with expert nutritional advice.

In addition, Harbro Ltd also has a network of 21 retail country stores throughout Scotland from the Borders to Shetland supplying both the farming and wider rural community with animal health products, farming supplies, equestrian and pet food and accessories.

The Harbro Group also includes Strathclyde Nutrition Ltd, which contract manufacturers animal feed buckets and blocks; Transpan (Scotland) Ltd.

Issued on behalf of Harbro Limited. For more information contact: Emma Stephenson, Campaign planner on 01888 545215 or email