Life on the Farm

Sophie Law

How are we another month down the line already?  I hope you have all been enjoying the Autumn?  I love the colours at this time of year, although adapting to the weather change can sometimes be a shock to the system.

This month has been quite a busy month on the farm. Firstly we had the bull sales up at Stirling United Auctions.  We were supposed to have two bulls going to this, but one of them had pulled his nose ring out before he was halter trained.  This means that there is no way of controlling him and getting him used to being lead on a halter, which is dangerous when you have the majority of a tonne at one end of a lead!  “Could you not have just put a ring back in his nose?” I hear you ask.  Well it’s not as easy as that, and believe me I wish it was!  Due to him catching it on a fence and ripping the cartilage, when it heals the scar tissue is not as strong as the cartilage that was there before, it would just rip again with the strength the bulls have.

The bull that we did take to the sales did sell, although privately and not through the ring. We are glad we managed to find a buyer and hope he has a happy life in his new home.  Just the experience of attending the bull sales is a bonus, meeting the top sellers and seeing the market itself makes a great weekend.

We have also now brought the cows in for the winter months. The cattle are brought in because of the weather, living in the west of Scotland is pretty wet and the ground would become completely poached.  Not to mention the health of the cattle, I think their preference during the cold and wet weather would definitely be living in a warm shed being fed sweet silage.

Bringing in the cattle this year has been quite different to last year, as this year we have managed to increase our numbers.  In previous years we had been buying in around 100 to 150 dairy cross bred calves still on milk.  We fed and weaned them through the winter and sold them the next autumn through the store ring at the market. This worked well, but with costs rising for feed and bedding it would have outweighed the profits this year.  It may sound like a harsh way to look at things, but as I have said before, this is also a business and as we all know there are bills to pay.

This year we have not bought more calves, but we have bought more breeding cows. We managed to increase our numbers by 60 cows and 30 calves, which is a huge jump.  30 of those cows had calves at foot and the other 30 were in calf. They have now stopped calving and on the whole it went pretty well. So because we now have so many cows, we needed to prep our sheds to be able to accommodate them, but also try and work in the most efficient way we can.  Working off farm means time is tight and there is not much daylight, so having a system that is affordable and efficient is a help.

We have replaced the old cubicles and added rubber matting.  This allows the cows to have individual spaces to lie down which is raised from the ground and gives comfort and warmth.  If the cows have somewhere clean to lie it helps keep them clean and in turn reduces sores and infections, and is also beneficial if they’re feeding a calf.  We removed the old bars in the feed barrier which had become rusty and some were broken, and purchased a second hand feed wagon, basically a trailer which spits out the silage put in from the pit into the feed passage.  This has saved a huge chunk of time every few nights that we previously spent cutting open and putting in bales of silage. 

We have also got some other very exciting news, which I would love to share with you all too.  After another successful round of IVF, Gavin, Jack and I are expecting another family member to join us in April next year. We are having a little girl and could not be more excited.

Next month I’ll tell you about another income we have over the winter, the sheep we graze on our land.  Also what has to happen to our calves when they are born?

If there is anything I have covered but you would like more information on, please let us know and I will try and answer any questions you may have. Or if there are any topics you would like me to cover. Our email address is you can also follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for regular rural updates. 

See you next month,