UNTIL A UK-EU trade agreement is reached, tariff-free exports to the EU will continue, while China mops up a lot of New Zealand and Australian lamb, present a 'decent outlook' for Scottish farmers' 2020 lamb crop – so long as they make the most of it.

Vet Elizabeth Berry of Animax advised farmers to focus on several factors: "These include lambing percentage, ewe and lamb health, and efficiency converting grass into growth. But all of these can be held back by under-par trace element status, even at sub-clinical levels.

"Pre- and post-lambing, the critical ones are selenium, iodine, cobalt and, on some but not all farms, copper," said Ms Berry. "If just one is lacking, this can impact on health and performance."

She reported that an increasing number of farmers in Scotland were opting for a 180-day 'trickle charge' of micronutrients offered by leaching bolus technology.

"Timing is flexible," she said, "typically four to six weeks before lambing, then repeated six months later. Lambs gain too, of course, as a result of trace element enriched milk.

"In this post-election honeymoon period before either a new Agriculture Bill is passed or an EU-withdrawal trade agreement reached, getting ewes fine-tuned now for robust health, high milk production and optimal forage efficiency makes sound business sense," she said.