John Gordon: A collapsed roof due to snow, hungry ewes and impending TB tests

HAPPY New Year. We began the year with more than two and a half feet of lying snow causing us a raft of problems.

The sheer weight of snow caused part of a shed roof to collapse, giving us concern for the rest it and other sheds.

Our neighbour had a whole shed, housing 300 cattle, collapse. Some animals were killed and a farm worker injured. There have been several such instances in our area due to the extreme snowfall with no wind to clear the roofs.

Our yard is like a skating rink with packed snow turned to ice. We have piled up snow all over the place and it’s difficult to know what to do with any more.

With temperatures down to -19 degC the ewes are very hungry and are eating 2.5kg of baled silage per day and it’s a constant struggle to reach them with the feed. We had not budgeted on feeding so early and this will probably mean we will need to buy silage later.

On a positive note the feeding lambs are eating well and thankfully coming to good money. We missed the peak just before the New Year but 110 lambs went away on January 5 and averaged £86.

We are facing a whole herd (TB test and having only been given eight weeks to complete this we have protested that more notice should have been given and, at this time of year, the stress on the calves could trigger a pneumonia outbreak. As expected our comments have fallen on deaf ears!

Having more than 450 animals to test, the timescale is tight and is made worse by the continuing wintry weather as moving stock across the icy yard, from sheds to the handling system, is not possible just now.

We sold 20 15-month-old steers on January 8 at Thainstone at an average of £960. We were well pleased and it has definitely paid us to keep them longer.

Our new mixer wagon is working well saving almost 15 minutes per mix from start to finish compared with the old machine.

The trouble-free Christmas we were hoping for nearly came to an abrupt end, however, when the fully loaded wagon and tractor slid down our sloping yard and off the edge of the road. We had to empty the contents onto the road to get things moving again. Thankfully no lasting damage, just a knock to my pride!

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