Eilidh Hunter, Lambing Student

18 April 2022

After a good year last year, I decided to come back for a second year of lambing at Balcaskie! The lambing season is my favourite time of the year as although it is a very busy and challenging time it can also be very rewarding.

At Balcaskie lambing starts with texel cross ewes lambing indoors throughout March then moving onto lambing mule ewes and hoggs, cheviot X mule hoggs and texel X hoggs outdoors. At home I lamb blackies, mules, lleyns and Valais black noses so I enjoy getting the opportunity to gain experience lambing a few different breeds of sheep across two different farms. I also do not lamb hoggs at home so I get to learn about breeding them at Balcaskie. The hoggs are put to a Shetland tup which means smaller lambs which makes lambing the hoggs easier and with little intervention. They are also very cute!

I start most mornings by feeding the sheep in the shed a mixed ration of wheat, barley and oats. I then top up any lambs that are needing a little extra milk to ensure their tummies are full. If anything has lambed I will move them into an individual pen, iodine the lambs navel and check that the ewe has plenty milk. I then begin going round all the individual pens to find any strong lambs which are ready to be marked up and moved into a running on pen or straight into the field. I then go outside on the quad bike to check some of the outdoor lambing fields for any new lambs or any ewes or hoggs which need assistance. I then mother up the ewes and lambs in the running on fields to make sure no lambs are lost and that they are all fit and healthy. This is one of my favourite jobs as you get to see how well the lambs are doing at only a day or two old. Throughout the morning I use the quad and trailer to turn out ewes and lambs from the shed into the field at Lochty where they will live for a few days before being moved to bigger fields elsewhere. When the lambs have been in these fields for a few days we walk them into a pen to be loaded onto the livestock trailer for them to go to fields at Bowhouse or Comielaw. This can be either really fun or really stressful depending on how flighty the sheep are that day but I usually always enjoy it.

As well as lambing I have also helped to tag the piglets which is my favourite job as they are just so small and funny. I have also helped Cammy with feeding Yoevil the bull to get him ready for upcoming shows.

I really enjoy working alongside everyone in the Balcaskie team. I have learnt lots of new lambing tips, tricks and techniques from Ewan the shepherd, such as how to stop the lambs head falling back down the birth canal when assisting a ewe lambing and how to deal with difficult lambs when they have one leg back making it stuck and tricky for the ewe to lamb it.


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