John Gordon: Weather and calving woes, plus roof repairs

OUR In Your Field series, which charts the ups and downs of seven farmers around the country, focuses on what’s been happening on-farm in Aberdeenshire.

The weather is always a favourite topic of conversation for farmers and we’re never pleased. The week of September 13 gave us heavy rain and cold northerly winds more akin to November.

Harvest is very much a stop/ start affair – more stop than start – and there’s a lot of straw to bale. We’ve bought and carted home 500 bales at £19 each, which I feel is a fair price for both parties.

Hopefully, Mother Nature will help the straw situation and provide us with a good open year end so that cows can stay out longer, thus limiting bedding requirements.

Calving has been good, bad and indifferent. We’ve had three sets of twins and calf size has been reasonable, but two calves which appeared healthy at birth, died within the first 12 hours. Just a normal calving I hear you say.

Yearling cattle

Our stockman Doug has clipped the heads and tails of our yearling cattle in preparation for the sale today (September 24).

Heifers are looking well but the steers look a bit weathered with all the rain we’ve had and they will be lighter on the year.

We anticipate trade will be back around £50-£80, however, last year did see exceptional trade. We bought 172 mule ewe lambs suitable for tupping at an average of £110. These producers need a good premium to make it worth their while. We will also keep 30 ewe lambs of our own along with another 100 smaller ones for tupping next year.

Our local builders arrived to dismantle the two shed roofs which collapsed under the weight of snow in January.

Hopefully the new roofs will be on quite quickly.

It also gives us a good opportunity to rewire these sheds and make some other building alterations at the same time.

We were very pleased to be invited to my cousin’s daughter’s wedding. It was an excellent farming wedding and a great day out.

Jim and Alyson Hunter certainly know how to throw a party – Ian and Beth, we wish you many happy years together.



John Gordon farms 505ha (1,250 acres) at Wellheads, Huntly in partnership with his mother, and wife Fiona and their family Ewan (15) and Kirstie (12). The upland farm has sucklers, sheep and spring barley. John is a director of the Highland Show and ANM Group, which includes Aberdeen and Northern Marts.

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