In your field

John Gordon: Cold weather takes its toll on farm buildings

After seven weeks with snow on the ground, the novelty has well and truly worn off. We had a bit of a thaw, but the packed ice on the yard hasn’t shifted, so it’s still very slippy.

We had another part of a shed collapse under the weight of snow and local reports suggest more than 200 farm buildings have been similarly affected.

Some of these sheds are relatively new, suggesting some further thought needs to be given to the load-bearing capacity of future builds.

Not all farmers have storm damage insurance cover. We know of one local farmer with two sheds down and no insurance facing an estimated bill of £80,000 to replace them. Many buildings are badly damaged, but have not collapsed. Bent purlins will certainly shorten their lifespan.

The only compensation coming from the snow was that it allowed us to empty cattle courts of muck, but we were limited by which fields we could access.

Fortunately SEPA made an allowance to let farmers spread slurry on frozen ground, otherwise we would have had slurry up through the slats.

Our ewes scanned well at 192 per cent, with only 2 per cent not in lamb.

Most ewes have weathered the storm well, but around 10 per cent are quite thin. We have shed them out and are throwing everything at them to keep them going in the eight weeks before lambing.

All ewes carrying multiples are getting 0.25 kg of ewe rolls. It’s earlier than normal, but needs must. All lambs have now gone, with the last draw sold store at Thainstone for £76 per head.

Our TB test has almost finished and so far, so good. We used a lot of sand in the yard to move cattle safely and hope the Department appreciates our efforts. It allowed us to protect the spring calvers against worms, rotavirus and leptospirosis before calving.

Finally, all producers must welcome the long-awaited code of practice, which will stop the large supermarket chains altering supply terms retrospectively or asking suppliers to fund promotions such as two-for-one.

Hopefully this will be followed up by the appointment of an ombudsman to mediate between parties and this will be a major step towards making things fairer for us all.


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