Shetland Monitor Farm Prepares for Tupping Season

With the tupping season fast approaching the next meeting of the Shetland Monitor Farm on Sunday 8th October will focus on ways to make sure that ewes and tups are in peak condition to maximise fertility levels.

At the meeting, which begins at 11am at Bigton Hall, sheep specialist Poppy Frater from SRUC, Scotland’s Rural College, will lead a discussion on how to ensure a ewe’s nutritional needs are met during pregnancy. She will also highlight the importance of carrying out an MOT on tups before the go out with the ewes.

Poppy Frater said: “Correct feeding during key periods is essential to ensure you maximise the potential of your flock in terms of lambing percentage and the survival and growth of your lambs.”

She added: “Planning your diets ahead to ensure the nutrients requirements of your flock are met can also reduce the overall feed cost.”

Monitor farm hosts, Kirsty and Aimee Budge from Bigton Farm, have kept 80 of their gimmers this year and now have a breeding flock of 280 ewes, as well as six Suffolk tups.  Attendees will have an opportunity to view the tups from Bigton after lunch, when the group moves to the farm.  A vet from Shetland Vets  will also highlight the importance of carrying out a MOT on tups before they go out with the ewes.

Monitor farm hosts Kirsty and Aimee Budge will give an update on how the sale season has gone so far. The sisters send their prime lambs down to Thainstone once they reach their target weight of 40kg liveweight, however 53 of their store lambs sold in Lerwick earlier this month.

Kirsty Budge commented: “We are really happy with the prices we got this year for our store lambs. The trade was strong on the day and we got a higher price compared to last year, and managed to get them to market a month earlier.”

Samples of the autumn forage being grazed at Bigton and other neighbouring farms have been sent to the lab for analysis and the results will be shared at the meeting and discussed. The Budge sisters will also report on how the harvest of the farm’s 24 hectares of spring barley went.

Aimee Budge said: “We had some drama during harvest this year when our combine broke on the last day. Luckily our neighbour John Leslie came to our rescue and brought the last two hectares in for us.”

She added: “The good news is that the quality of the crop this year is brilliant and the spring barley came off the field at just 19% moisture.”

The Shetland Monitor Farm is one of nine monitor farms that have been established across Scotland in a joint initiative by Quality Meat Scotland (QMS) and AHDB Cereals & Oilseeds, with funding from the Scottish Government. The aim of the programme is to help improve the productivity, profitability and sustainability of Scottish farm businesses.

The Shetland Monitor Farm meetings are open and free for all farmers and crofters to attend.  Attendees will also have an input into the topics covered, the speakers invited to meetings and visits to other enterprises and businesses.  Lunch will be provided and the meeting will finish at 3pm.

To book your attendance (and lunch!) please contact the project facilitator Graham Fraser, SAC Consulting Lerwick on 01595 693520 by Wednesday 4 October, or email

For more information about the monitor farm programme visit