As we head into 2021, it marks the start of the farming cycle once again.

Thoughts move to preparing for spring calving and lambing and plans for the year ahead.

Speaking to farm manager Shaun Diver, one of the first jobs he has lined up for the new year is the scanning, housing and shearing of ewes.

Scanning day is one of the biggest days of the year in a sheep system, as it outlines the potential lamb crop due to arrive later in spring.

Housing of stock

Shaun plans to house the ewes towards the end of the week, once he gets a couple of dry days together, so that they go in as dry as possible.

He will shear them this year to help increase the number of ewes he can hold in each pen.

Once scanned, singles, twins and triplet-bearing ewes will be batched and housed accordingly.

Those carrying triplets will more than likely start meal feeding straight away.

These will also be joined by any thinner twin-bearing ewes to make up a full pen, as housing space is quite tight.

Ewe lambs will be left outside for another few weeks, as they are lambing slightly later than the mature ewes in order to have a manageable workload around lambing time.


On the cattle side of the farm, the beginning of a new year marks the start of the countdown to calving.

Preparation has started practically since housing, with close management of cow body condition since weaning and the introduction of mineral feeding from mid-December.

A powdered mineral is being top-dressed on the silage once a day, at a rate of 150g/head/day.

Shaun plans to introduce soya bean meal at a rate of 500g/head/day from now onwards. This will be built up to around 750g/head/day by the start of calving on 1 February.

The idea behind feeding soya is to help improve both quantity and quality of the cows' colostrum at calving.

This has worked very well in recent years, with Shaun putting huge emphasis on colostrum quality and ensuring every newborn calf gets a sufficient feed in the first few hours of life to maximise passive immunity from the cow to the calf.

The farm operates the one-two-three rule, which sees the cows' first milk fed to the calf within two hours of birth, as antibody absorption is highest at this time, with a feed rate of at least three litres to ensure enough antibodies are received.