Changing the way he feeds his flock has improved Alex Frame’s lambing percentage and overall ewe and lamb health – but it is a whole flock improvement that he couldn’t have achieved without his Yamaha ATVs and the addition of two trailed snackers.

Mr Frame shares the management of Home Farm, Glenbuck, near Muirkirk, with his partner Sally Thomson. The couple manage the land for Jim Steele, who also farms himself at Walston Mill, Carnwath. The land covers both sides of the south Lanarkshire/Ayrshire border and rises to 1600 feet.

“We manage 2500 acres with 1000 breeding ewes and a growing herd of cattle. The ATVs are an essential tool and we rarely carry out any work on the farm without using them. I like Yamahas because they carry more and feel well planted on the hill ground here.

"I feel like I am positioned well in the seat with a good view, but more importantly a low centre of gravity to feel secure when moving around in all conditions,” he said.

The land is very wet for large portions of the year and ground conditions can be challenging. He has two ATVs and relies on the larger model with more power and ground clearance for a good portion of the daily work.

“It is essential that my ATV hasa diff-lock because of the conditions here. Thankfully, my Yamaha Kodiak 700 EPS has both diff lock and power steering which makes it much easier and safer to handle on the high ground.”

The Kodiak 700 also has adjustable suspension to help him manage tricky terrain more safely and comfortably. “Our dealer John Storry, of J and J Storry, is great at setting the ATVs up for us, so we rarely have to make any adjustments. He also supplies us with replacements if our machines need servicing and has been looking after the farm for 22 years.

"We are in a pattern of replacing each bike after two years and we put about 4000 miles on each bike a year. This is my third Kodiak and we have another smaller engined model for Sally.”

The second ATV is a Yamaha Kodiak 450, also with power steering. “We have had Yamahas for many years and Sally used to run a 350, but when the new model was updated with better suspension and power steering, we upgraded her machine.

"It doesn’t have diff-lock or as much ground clearance as my 700 model, but it is very capable and, most importantly, it can tow 500kg, which is only 100 less than mine,” he pointed out.

The towing and carrying capacities of the ATVs are crucial to the farming system that Mr Frame has developed. The farm has invested in two trailed snackers and the couple have moved away from feed blocks to rolls.

“The snacker enables us to feed on the hill more effectively. It has made huge differences at lambing time. We start mid-March and feed through until shortly after lambing to improve both ewe and lamb health.”

This year, the flock scanned at 160% with a high percentage of twins. “With the ATVs and the snackers, we were amongst the flock more and we knew the ewes were eating more. Conditions can be hard at lambing, and by feeding more we found the ewes were in a better condition and had more milk which has led to better lamb numbers and healthier lambs,” said Mr Frame.

He accepted that costs have risen, but insisted that the rise is small compared to the overall farm benefit. “The cost of feed blocks has also gone up, so we reviewed our spend and found moving to rolls a better option for our farming system. We are on the ATVs most of the day so taking the rolls with us is easy enough and the results have been very encouraging,” he argued.

The couple also have a trailer each and carry out most of the farm maintenance and fencing themselves. The standard winch on both Yamaha machines, together with the high carrying capacities, helps them to achieve this.

“I can carry 140 kg and Sally 120 kg, so with trailers as well we can move fence posts, wires, and tools. I use the winch for fencing too. It is really handy for pulling the wires up.”

The farm is currently expanding, with the 20 pure-bred Galloway herd being upsized to graze more of the land because of restrictions now on the amount of land that can managed by controlled burning.

“The numbers we have are already making a difference, so we intend to increase a little because the herd grazes well on the rougher ground which makes it more manageable. We have already incorporated 12 new heifers into the herd.

"This will mean more livestock for us to manage, but with the ATVs and the system we have, I am confident it will be a positive move for the farm,” he concludes.