Holidays don’t take priority at Ardhuncart, but this year we headed down to Ingliston to the Royal Highland Show for a couple of days.

Before our trip to the show, the two fields sown with red clover were cut and baled. In previous years we have used it as fallow, but with changes to the three-crop ruling specifications we no longer have a need for fallow, allowing these areas to be cut before 15 July.

No fertiliser had been applied to the 5ha and it yielded 118 bales of a quality feed for winter. The aftermath is growing on well and fingers crossed there will be a second cut from it. The silage bales are all tubelined on the farm. With changes to legislation and the introduction of disposal costs for plastic, it means that tubelining versus individual wrapped bales not only saves money through less plastic being used, but results in less collection and disposal costs.

Charles Webster's automatic tubeline bale wrapper.

Our main pit silage wasn’t completed until 2 July. The plan was to cut early in June, but wet weather dictated the order of play. The fields were cut on 29-30 June. While the grass was cut dry, the heavens opened, the lightning flashed and the thunder rumbled on that Saturday evening. However, the crop came to no harm and the silage has been secured in good order. The pit is full and an additional 237 bales were made to utilise the surplus grass cut.

Roll back the clock 12 months and the silage pit was only 60% full and only 99 bales of silage were made.


In our last article we mentioned that we had secured a forward contract of draff at a good price for winter. Delivery is now complete and the bulk of the draff is in a separate pit, with the remainder emptied against one wall of the silage pit and incorporated with the grass. The dry spell of weather early this year did point to the potential for another forage shortage, but thankfully this is not the case and we should have enough feed for this year’s cattle at housing.


The catchy weather has also hindered the clipping squads, but we were lucky enough to get the sheep clipped on 6 July.

The ewes and lambs were moved to the silage aftermath to tidy up the fields for a few days. All being well, by the time you read this, the lambs will be weaned onto our new reseed and treated for blowfly strike. They will be out there for a week or so before we consider any worm treatments, as this is the current best practice to prevent wormer resistance. If lambs are dosed before moving to fresh grass, it means that if there are any resistant worms in them, they are the only worms that will then be on the grass. The ewes will also be treated and moved onto the hill for the rest of the summer. The hill has a good bite on it and they will remain there until pre-tupping.


One of our objectives from the start of the project was to condense the calving period. This was difficult to achieve while we were breeding and selling both spring- and autumn-calving heifers.

With the severe shortage of grass last summer, low stocks of home-produced fodder and an expensive winter looming, the decision was made to stop the summer/backend calvers. We have managed to tighten the calving spread with just one cow to calve from last years’ autumn group. We now only have a handful of cows from last years’ summer/autumn group, and these will be with the bull until the end of August, which will tighten the calving spread even more.

We sold a batch of store cattle at Thainstone recently. Trade was as expected taking into account the current prime cattle killing price, and the impending lower carcase weight limits being introduced by the abattoirs. The bulling heifers will be scanned in the coming weeks by our local vets.

Arable ground

Throughout the area, arable crops are looking well. The rain came at a critical stage for the growing crop. This year we have grown 24ha of Laureate spring barley. It grew well in the locality last year, with good yields of both straw and barley. We are hoping that with a bit of luck we might be able to sell this variety for malting and secure a higher price. Let’s hope for dry weather at harvest time to secure the crop and keep drying costs down.

Adviser comment:

Robert Gilchrist

Anthelmintics are a critical product in the cattle and sheep cycle, and with resistance growing making sure to follow the best practice available at the time is key.

We are very lucky in the UK to have two industry-wide bodies representing cattle and sheep to disseminate the latest research into best practice for wormer use. The Control Of Worms Sustainably (COWS) group looks after cattle and Sustainable Control Of Parasites in Sheep (SCOPS) looks after sheep.

The advice disseminated does change over time as more research is done and new conclusions reached. Each organisation has a website. Cattle worming advice can be found at and sheep worming advice can be found at

As it stands in Scotland, we do have a level of resistance. However, it is nowhere near the level that exists elsewhere in the world and with a good level of stewardship, as evidenced by these organisations, we hope never to get to that level.

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