An insight into modern farming life. Janet and Alastair put their new young virgin tup to the test. Stevie risks the wrath of the buffalo mums when he ear-tags four newborn calves.
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Across some of the most beautiful and remote landscapes
of the British Isles...
There's not many views like that. It's absolutely stunning.
..Scotland's farmers work day and night,
producing our milk and our meat.
Trying out new ideas...
If a buffalo doesn't want to do something,
you're going to find it very difficult.
..and striving to turn a profit in tough economic times.
We're struggling. We're definitely struggling.
Over the course of a year,
six very different families let cameras onto their farms...
Everything that could have gone wrong there went wrong.
The idea of lying on a beach, bliss.
..to share their struggles...
We have to get her out, or she's going to die.
..and their triumphs.
-It's not about the pay cheque. It's about the lifestyle.
It's late autumn.
In Scotland, short, damp days
are followed by long, chill nights.
But in the cycle of the farming calendar,
such harsh conditions spell new life.
These are the months for mating.
The breeding season for the sheep and for the cattle,
it's very important to the financial aspect of the farm,
cos that's where all our income comes from.
So, getting the breeding right is the key to the whole business.
On the Isle of Mull, off Scotland's West Coast,
new farmers Janet and Alistair Taylor
rent 700 acres of mixed terrain,
where they keep 180 sheep...
-..20 Highland cattle...
-..and nine dogs.
They took over the lease on a rundown farm just five years ago...
..and are still a long way from making a profit.
This is just a different way of life.
You have to love being outside and doing this sort of job.
You wouldn't do it for money.
You just get bitten by a bug. It's just something you just want to do.
You just can't imagine doing anything else but farming.
-See you at the finish line.
Today, Janet and Alistair
are bringing their ewes in from the hill.
He comes across towards me and I come across towards him
and hopefully we meet in the middle somewhere with the sheep.
Come on up.
They have 130 ewes, mostly Cheviot and Cheviot-Shetland crosses,
which do well in the wet and windy Hebridean climate.
But building up a farm is a financial struggle.
Come out of it!
Janet and Alistair need to increase their flock and their sales.
That all begins with mating or tupping.
The main task today is we are sorting out our ewes
ready for tupping.
Tup is the male sheep,
and he will be mated with the females to produce the lambs.
To us, it's the beginning of the farming year,
selecting this is selecting what we're going to get next year
at lambing time.
This is Alfie with the Irish flag.
He is our Suffolk tup.
And then we've got Harold,
who is the brown Shetland tup standing up facing us.
And then the black one at the back is Lucky.
The white tup is the Cheviot tup.
He's actually retired now.
This older tup has fathered too many of the ewes.
To avoid the risk of inbreeding, there's a new boy on the farm.
He arrived a week ago and he's still a virgin.
Owen's just a lamb.
So he was born this year, so he's not very old at all.
A pedigree tup can cost tens of thousands.
Owen cost £150 from a friend.
There's a lot of pressure on him.
He has no idea what's coming.
What's coming are the ladies,
who are getting prepared.
First, a pedicure.
So, the sheep are going into this wee tray of water.
It's got a chemical in it to help fight foot rot.
These are their mineral boluses.
So these have copper cobalt and selenium in them.
Come on, fatty.
And finally, a quick cut and blow-dry.
This is a rough ewe, so that means she hasn't been clipped this year.
So, I'm going to give her a wee tidy up so that the tups can get to her.
I don't know why Janet won't let me cut her hair!
Out you go.
Oh, you look stylish!
Right, where were we?
The next stage is like sheep Blind Date,
with four tups in the hot seat.
Very much matchmaking.
Choosing the right ewe for the right tups.
Each tup has a different colour
and we're just marking each ewe that's going to go with each tup
with the corresponding colour and it's quite complicated.
What colour was Harold?
They are hoping to breed strength and vigour into their flock...
-..while avoiding any inbreeding.
Now, we've got daughters of one of the tups here,
so we need to make sure that we don't put them back to him.
He's put the wrong mark.
Luckily it's on a black sheep, so you won't really see it,
but she's to go to the nothing mark.
And I've got an eraser here.
-There you go.
-You can still see it, you put so much on.
Someone got me in trouble for putting too little on!
Owen's ewes are ready.
But the question is, is he?
The farm needs new lambs.
Owen will only have a few weeks to prove himself.
120 miles east in Fife,
Scotland's rugged terrain makes way for rich lowland pastures.
It's here that Stevie Mitchell runs his 450-acre farm.
His family have worked this land for over a century
and 12 years ago, Stevie decided to think big.
He started to farm water buffalo
and he now has a herd of over 400.
Today, with winter approaching,
Stevie needs to round up a small group of his breeding females
and transfer them to the warmth of the barns.
These cold mornings, they've been appearing down at the gate
of the farm, almost asking to come in.
They're water buffaloes from Asia,
so I think they may be not quite as accustomed to this cold weather.
Stevie was just 23 when he started this bold buffalo experiment.
At the very start, it was pretty nerve-racking,
cos I realised that I'd basically invested
absolutely everything I had,
plus, you know, a whole heap of money from the bank
that I didn't have.
What was it actually going to be like?
So far, it's working.
His buffalo meat is selling well, and his herd is expanding.
The females he's rounding up today have just calved
and there are now five newborns in the group, only a few days old.
They need to be ear-tagged and identified.
These are quite young calves, so the mums are very protective.
It's very important that we get this spot-on.
Come on, girls.
With the females successfully rounded up,
he now needs to get access to the calves for the tagging.
This is probably the point where the buffalo are most dangerous.
As you can see, they've got these huge horns
and they could do quite a lot of damage with them, you know.
So it's the same as a normal cow, though.
When they've just had a baby, their hormones are their highest.
And they don't like the fact that we're interfering now
with their babies, but it's a job that has to be done.
We try and make it as safe as we possibly can.
Let's plan what we're doing really carefully.
First, they must move all the pregnant females out,
leaving just the calves and their mothers.
Good girl. Come on, up, up, up.
Buffalo are similar to beef cattle.
But they are more aggressive
and they can be thoroughly unpredictable.
Ah, you devil!
It's always a little bit daunting
when you have to work so closely with them
and you kind of need eyes in the back of your head
cos you don't know what direction they're coming from.
Luckily, Stevie's right-hand man, Eddie, is here to help.
I'm so lucky to have Eddie.
He works with animals every day, and kind of,
he knows the ones to watch out for and the ones not to
a lot more than I do these days.
One mother tries to make a run for it.
Up, up, as a team.
Come on, you, go. Well done, Eddie.
That cow there with the collar, Eddie, she's quite aggressive, eh?
There's one they know they need to watch.
She's never been parted from her calf
and is particularly protective and aggressive.
The buffalo have got these horns and they really know how to use them.
Both Eddie and I are quite aware to be extremely cautious.
On the other side of Scotland, on the West Coast,
husband and wife team David and Sandra Coltart
run a large hill farm that stretches over 3,200 acres
out towards the sea.
On this hilly and inhospitable terrain, they farm 550 sheep...
..along with 45 cattle,
and 15 border collies.
Being a farmer in the time we are at the moment, you know,
you can't cherry pick the good days
cos no-one's going to make much money having a hill
flock of sheep. You really have to take the whole package.
Your darkest days, when everything goes wrong...
Oh, the bandit!
..and you think, why did I want to be a farmer?!
And there are days, you know, when things are the total opposite,
and you think, thank God I'm a farmer!
Like all Scottish sheep farmers, David and Sandra are preparing for
the financially vital breeding season.
They need to buy four new tups to replace their old stock.
Only David is cutting things a bit fine.
This is the last local tup sale of the year.
It's the last chance saloon
in getting a breeding tup in the UK, really, so...
Cutting it fine. Cutting it a bit too fine.
But anyway, we'll get something, won't we?
Yeah, I'll try to get something earlier on in the sale,
so that I'm not leaving it till last and just picking some scrubber up.
That way, if we get it earlier, we know we've got it,
and we can head to the bar.
-I mean, I can!
-Yeah, I'm driving.
David and Sandra are looking for blackfaced tups.
-Last tup is standing right.
-Yeah. It's a good tup.
But they need animals made of the right stuff.
What's his history? Any history about him?
-A Nunnery tup.
-A Nunnery tup?
-His mother's a 18,000 Willmore.
They can't leave empty-handed,
but they need strong, vigorous tups who can survive out on the hills.
He's all right.
Sometimes people keep tups in a pen
and they're used to living inside and eating a lot of cake.
And then the minute that you fire them out onto the hill,
they're like, "Where's the cake?!"
And they're looking to come back in the shed rather than go away
and look for ewes to cover, so we want something that's going,
"Yeah, let's go to the hill and find the girls, basically."
He's got a good coat on him.
An ideal tup will have strong back legs for mounting the ewes.
Good teeth so he can feed and forage on the hills.
And two other obvious attributes.
-All right, he's got a pair of knackers.
Sandra once bought a tup without a hands-on check first.
We assumed that he had two.
Anyway, we got him home and discovered that he only had one,
-No, he had none.
-No, he had one.
-I thought he had one?
No, he had no balls at all!
David has to rotate his tups every two years to prevent inbreeding.
It's vital they buy four new animals today.
Check that it's got two.
Their budget is £200 or £300 per tup,
but prices can easily reach well into the thousands.
It's just a bit of a lottery, because, you know,
trying to get something you want at the right price,
everyone else probably thinks it's maybe good, so, we'll see.
It's looking lively in the sale ring.
-He's a wild one, that.
-Watch your hands.
-Is that you, no?
David's been spontaneous and bought a bargain tup, sight unseen.
Time for a checkup.
-He's all right, actually.
He's got a pair of knackers anyway.
The general consensus today is that the price is a wee bit lower.
It's the last tup sale in the UK, so they really have to sell them.
It seems to be a buyer's market.
Prices are low and David's on a roll.
Time to go and pay before I buy anything else. All right!
-With an original shopping list of four tups...
-Two more to go.
..they've ended up with ten, costing £2,400.
These tups will get just two weeks to settle in on the farm
before they're put out to work with the ewes.
Very pleased with our tups and we didn't have to pay too much
to get something decent, so we're happy.
We got a lot of bargains today.
In the end, you leaving things to the last minute, for a change,
-has worked out.
-Isn't that amazing?
-Yeah, for once.
So Last-minute Dave works the trick.
85 miles south-east in Fife,
Buffalo farmer Stevie needs to ear-tag his newborn calves.
It's a legal requirement to tag and register all new livestock.
The problem is the mothers, who are protective and unpredictable.
You can't really tell until you start really handling them
just what their nature's going to be.
Cow 22 there is certainly giving us a bit of eye at the moment,
so we'll be careful with her.
Stevie chooses the first candidate carefully.
We'll start with a nice quiet one.
It's a wee boy calf.
So we've just got a wee spray of iodine
to stop any infection getting in.
It's just like somebody getting their ear pierced, really.
That wasn't too bad.
So one down, the next to go.
Time to choose the next mother and calf.
Cow 22 is looking unsettled.
It's the unpredictability of a buffalo.
You know, sometimes they can be totally chilled out,
relaxed and the next minute, that snorting lunatic appears.
It's the joys of working with an animal that's got such a weapon,
Five years ago, Stevie learned the hard way just how dangerous
these animals can be.
A calf came up behind quite innocently.
Mother just decided that she didn't approve
and came charging in.
She butted me down a hill and let out an almighty war cry.
The whole herd just joined in.
It wasn't just on the ground. They were literally throwing me.
That was the most dramatic part about it.
They ripped all my clothes off.
I had several quite nasty gores with their horns,
a horn right into my hamstring,
back of my leg and one up my backside, unfortunately.
They really were going for my blood.
Stevie needed surgery and five weeks in hospital.
It has definitely made me a little bit more cautious.
Definitely a lot more respect for them.
A lot stricter with the guys in the team
to make sure that we work, like today, in twos,
never to be left kind of in a situation
where that could happen again.
Time to tackle number 22.
Watch, watch, watch.
-Right, so what have we got here, a bull calf?
-Her anxiety is alerting the other cows.
The key is, the calf was quite relaxed, you know,
which helps a lot, because if the calf was fighting us,
then I suspect that cow would have been over that gate in no time,
cos they can get over these gates, there's no question about it.
So, mission accomplished.
At this time of year, across Scotland, it's dark by five.
For the sheep farmers,
it's this very loss of daylight that brings their ewes into season.
It affects their hormones, so they're ready to mate.
The seasonal rhythms of nature dictate the farming year.
Two more. Right, OK.
She says, no foot baths!
On the Isle of Mull,
Janet and Alistair's ewes are almost ready for tupping.
As new farmers, they're still building their stock,
and the decisions they make today
are crucial to the future success of their farm.
Any females born on the farm, you couldn't put a price on their heads
because they will become part of your breeding stock.
They're going to produce lambs for years to come.
It's the never-ending circle.
-Don't hurt yourself. Watch your head.
This year, they're putting their faith in Owen, a virgin tup lamb.
-On his chest, between his front legs, we're going to put lots of
this stuff - that's keel.
So when he jumps on their backs,
he will leave some of this on their backs,
so we'll know which ewes he's been on and which ones he hasn't.
Are you worried about this, Owen?
What the hell are you doing with that glove?!
So I'm just trying to work it into his wool, so it lasts for a while.
Owen has never been with a ewe before.
It's all just a gamble.
It's, er, trying something different, see if it'll work.
An O for Owen!
So I'm just gonna hide in amongst these ewes with my big green bum.
-He doesn't seem impressed.
He seems more interested in what's happening next door,
where experienced tup Harold has many successful breeding seasons
under his fleece.
Harold immediately gets down to business.
He's smelling their pee and things to see if they're in season
and ready for him.
A practised tup like Harold
will go for the older, experienced ewes first.
If the female is fertile, she will stand to receive the male.
He's interested now.
-She's just a gimmer, isn't she?
-Yeah, she won't know what's what.
Owen's getting the idea, but he'd be better off with an older ewe.
There's a lot to learn and even more at stake.
In the north-east of Scotland,
Martin Irvine and his family run a 240-acre farm,
breeding pedigree Limousin cattle.
Martin's big love since childhood was his prize bulls...
..until two women came into his life -
wife Mel and baby daughter Erin.
When you're really busy and you're having a hard day or whatever,
you come home and there's Erin with a big smile,
it just kind of cheers you up and you forget about it really,
so that's quite nice.
-Are you sleepy?
-She does, she fits in with us.
She comes on the tractors with us.
She comes up to the sheep with us.
She comes to the mart with us. Don't you?
The Irvines have specialised in bull breeding for over 35 years
and it's the farm's main source of income,
but for the last few years,
as previously seen on This Farming Life,
Martin's struggled with a sharp downturn in his fortunes.
His bulls weren't fetching good prices.
Oh, that's just depressing, that, really.
Not enough. Right, we'll go try the next three.
I'm nae looking very excited for us really.
Hard work, really hard work.
Bulls aren't sold on the merit of what they look like.
There's another factor, which is figures,
and the figures in the last stock bull weren't very good.
So his beef values and all this kind of stuff weren't very good
and that kind of put people off from buying him
and that was the problem there.
Now, with their own new mouth to feed,
Mel and Martin hope that better times and prices are on the way.
So we survived a really hard 18 months and, er,
if you can survive the bad bits, that's the key.
One of the last Limousin bull sales of the year is in Carlisle.
It's a two-day event and all the top breeders and buyers are here.
It's a chance for Martin to make some much-needed cash.
We're at Carlisle. It is Limousin central.
It's a prestigious show and sale.
You're in amongst big competition.
Bulls from up and down the length and breadth of the country.
Martin's hopes for a change in his fortunes
rest on these two young bulls,
brothers Loki and Luke.
My pick's Loki.
A bit more size, a bit more character. He's real flashy.
But Luke, he's a little bit younger, but he's heavier.
So he's got more carcass and more weight, but he's just not as pretty.
It takes a long time and a lot of money to get the bulls here,
so there's a lot of money invested,
and if we can get a good show day today, it'll help us sell tomorrow.
It's money, money,
and this is our business and you need to make money to survive.
The auction is tomorrow.
Today, it's the show day.
How are you?
Yeah. What do you think?
It's an Irvine family affair.
and brother Darren are all here
to get Luke and Loki looking their best.
A winner's rosette in the competition rounds today
can help push up the price tomorrow.
So all these products,
all they're gonna do is kind of bulk up the hair,
it gives the illusion of more size and weight and power.
The Limousin breed covers so many aspects.
They've got size, they've got length, they've got a nice bum,
good character, good locomotion.
Massive balls. 38 centimetres.
Nearly as big as me!
No, I'm only winding you up!
These fine animals are the first sons of Martin's current stock bull,
Irish, to go to market.
When we bought Irish, we were looking for muscle.
We were looking for the Arnold Schwarzenegger of bulls
and he is like the Arnold Schwarzenegger of bulls.
The females are gonna hopefully throw in the genetics for the size
and power and Irish, with all his extreme muscle and ripness to him,
he's gonna mix it and, hopefully, the calves off of this will be
a bit of both.
Martin bought Irish three years ago - an investment for the future.
This weekend, he will find out if he chose well.
It's all about the final touches.
Looking as good as they can, I think.
Hey, Uncle Darren.
Just see what happens.
Loki will be first into the competition round.
I'm just going to head down now to the holding area.
That's Class Three in now. We're Class Five.
So a ten-minute wait there and we'll see how good we do.
Cattle breeding is a long, slow game.
Martin's about to find out if he has a winning hand.
A cold snap has hit the West Coast of Scotland...
..but farmers with sheep to breed, like David and Sandra,
can't afford to let the weather slow them down.
They've bought their ten new tups
and now they need to bring the ewes down from the hills for mating.
It's the autumn gather.
Today's plan is to get the sheep and the ewes in for the tup.
That's the task today.
It's the kind of last gathering of the calendar year.
Sandra's come down with a bug,
so she's not fit for the long, cold climb through the hills.
Full of dangers but, yeah,
most of the time, everything works out all right.
He comes home all bedraggled looking
and a bit roughed up.
Don't forget your rolls, David.
You're going to be looking for them.
-You're going to take a banana as well?
David has recruited seven neighbours and their all-important dogs
to cover 1,500 acres of the farm.
We'll take the main lot down.
If you guys sweep back round and see them down to the gate here,
-we'll open the gate partly...
-..so the sheep can come underneath.
-As long as there's enough light and the weather's fine.
Yeah, yeah, yeah.
The usual chaos before I leave anywhere.
Forget my piece, forget my phone.
At least I haven't forgotten my dog!
It's an eight-mile drive to get into position before they can even start.
We didn't want to go until we were sure that the mist had cleared.
But the snow could lend a helping hand.
They call it the great white dog
because the sheep will generally drop below the snow line.
So hopefully, that's the case today,
that the sheep will have dropped down to a lower level.
They start at the far side of David's hills
and will walk back towards the farm, driving the sheep onwards.
-Here, dogs, here!
-All 160 of them.
It will be a long day.
We're heading over there, just to that skyline.
I'll go to that knoll.
Kenny and Robert will go round the face and then they'll start to drop,
drop down, and hopefully lift the sheep with them.
The plan is a pincer movement.
David's team will go up to the top of the hills and spread out as they
walk back, pushing the sheep downwards.
The other team will be lower, sweeping the sheep towards the farm.
David needs to comb the snowy ridge to be sure no sheep get left behind.
He plans to command proceedings from his high vantage point.
He has a clever dog...
..and a smartphone.
-Are you there, Robert?
This is the Vodafone voicemail service for 0755...
If I hear that message one more time I know where the phone is going!
-Are you there, Robert?
We're the line now that Robert should come up to.
Will you come up to my line, Robert?
Have you got sheep ahead of you?
We're heading back.
Right, if you come up just to the kind of snow line
where there's a level path along here
and I'll go up a wee bit higher, OK, mate? Right.
Gathers like this have taken place for centuries.
They happen through the year,
but always in summer for shearing and autumn for tupping.
Jimmy's been making noises higher up.
Kenny is working his dogs below.
So they're all just happy moving in a line.
Hi, Jimmy. How are you getting on now?
Can you see what David and that are doing and the boys?
David's family have worked these hills for the last 100 years.
There's not many views like that.
You've got looking towards Mull down Loch Linnhe to Lismore to Oban.
It's absolutely stunning.
So I think it's enough of me enjoying the view
and getting down and see what's happening down here.
After five hours and five miles of walking,
the team have successfully rounded up a large section
and are moving them onwards.
This is where, you know, my good planning has just worked perfect.
More luck than anything else, actually, to be fair.
A lot of the sheep were below the snow line,
but we still had to cover the ground.
The weather didn't deteriorate any worse than it was, so...
So I'll just get to the gate and when the gate's open and it's clear,
then we will take them down into the yard
and into the shed for the night.
These ewes are coming into season in the next few days and will soon be
introduced to the new tups.
Well done, guys. Well done.
Thank goodness for that!
Now time for the refreshment.
It's not even that worse off up the hill.
Yes, it's nice to see them back
and happy that nobody has fallen out with anybody
and everybody is still speaking.
As long as they have got food and dram, they're pretty happy.
In Carlisle, it's the Limousin bull competition rounds.
A great opportunity to catch a buyer's eye
before the auction tomorrow.
After last year's poor profits, Martin really needs a good sale
and his hopes are riding on 18-month-old Loki.
He's a cocky little bugger, really.
He likes to square up and fight with everybody
and show himself he's the man.
So he'll go in the ring and he will pose.
The worry is that, amongst other bulls, Loki can be unpredictable.
Once I get in there, I'll suss it out, but nothing I can do.
What will be will be. Just to get on with it.
A first or second place rosette
could really help get a good price tomorrow.
You always get nervous with showing.
I think, if you didn't, it would be strange not to.
I know I get nervous.
It's exciting nerves, though.
It's Loki's turn in the ring.
Martin needs to keep a tight hold.
The judge is looking for a good breed character,
so it is usually in a nice big bum, good walking.
Size as well is quite important.
A nice straight back and a full back, a wide back,
that's where you get all your expensive cuts of meat.
The judge is also assessing behaviour.
Didn't really stand, just wants to walk.
It's a bull. It just wants to show himself.
If Loki doesn't start behaving, Martin won't get a rosette.
Loki won't stand still!
Martin will get a bit frustrated cos I know I do when they don't do that.
The judge is just having another wee look.
Martin is just making sure Loki's legs are all square.
That's a good start.
Looks good so far, but you just don't know.
It's a win.
First in class rosette for Loki. A great start.
A good result!
As the winner of his class,
he now gets put through to the overall senior champions round.
Martin has never won this stage here.
The competition is tough.
He'd be my pick, but I'm biased, so...
Stand, stand, stand.
It's another win for Loki.
That's him got in senior champion, so...
And Erin sleeps through it.
Two red winner's rosettes for the collection.
Absolutely delighted. First in class and then senior champion.
We've always been reserve, never champion,
so off to a really good start.
The lucky charm is working. Good luck mascot, eh?
And the day keeps getting better.
Luke also wins first in class in the intermediates competition.
It's amazing what a new stock bull can do to a herd
and it's just taken us a way forward again
and it's just where we want to be, up at the top end.
That's where you want to be, at the top end, winning tickets.
These two sons of Irish are performing strongly so far.
But the much-needed boost for the farm's finances
will ride on tomorrow's sale.
Tomorrow could be a good day and we sell them for £5,000, £6,000 apiece,
or it could be an amazing day where you get 10, 15, 20,000.
You don't know.
There's a lot of buyers out there looking for Limousins right now
and this is what I have got in my pen, so I'm laughing.
Tomorrow should be a good day.
85 miles north, in Fife,
one of Stevie's young bulls isn't doing so well.
Stevie brought Asian water buffalo to Scotland 12 years ago,
gambling his inheritance on this untried market.
He's been impressed by their hardiness
but now one of his younger bulls is very sick.
Stevie doesn't know what's wrong.
Can we have a bucket here, Eddie?
Try and get some water for it.
Poor wee soul.
He's been unwell for a few days now.
The vet has prescribed antibiotics.
But they don't seem to be helping.
See how skinny it's gotten already?
I mean, these guys in behind were actually...
It was, you know, running a group exactly the same as them,
only ten days ago, but...
Whatever is bothering it is preventing it from eating.
I watched it the other day
and it was able to get the silage in its mouth and it wanted to eat
but it wasn't swallowing it.
It was just almost falling back out.
When you see an animal that you are responsible for,
you feel quite helpless to actually be able to do anything about it.
Neither Stevie nor the vet is sure what is wrong.
Buffalo husbandry is still new in the UK.
If it's an infectious disease, it could spell disaster,
as all of the young bulls in this shed could have been exposed.
For now, with the young bull suffering, Stevie must act.
Your responsibility is just kind of
what's right for this wee fella, you know?
He's gone downhill so quick that...
..I think really all we can do is organise to get it put down.
I don't like admitting defeat but...
..you can see it just looks...
It's as close to death as it could be.
It's down in the bottom pen, Keith.
To dispatch the sick animal quickly and humanely,
Stevie calls in the local gamekeeper.
It's just about dead.
From time to time we are going to have sick animals.
My grandad's favourite saying was
with livestock you'll get dead stock and I will always remember that,
especially at moments like this, so, yeah.
The carcass is sent off for an immediate postmortem.
If the young buffalo was infectious,
Stevie needs to know as the rest of his young bulls will be at risk.
On the Isle of Mull,
Janet and Alistair have woken to an unwelcome surprise.
What are you doing?
I'm sealing up the 17 silage bales
that one of the horses opened this morning.
-Whose horse opened it?
-It may have been my horse.
And how has she managed to get in with them?
She broke through the electric fence
and then proceeded to open 17 different bales of silage.
So some look like this
which is sealable.
Some look like this
which is not so sealable.
These ones, we'll not be able to tape up.
We are not actually feeding silage yet,
so we're just wondering what to do with them
because they will not last out like this.
Very annoying. Very disappointing.
Here's the culprit.
The reason we could tell she was the culprit was when we came out this
morning, she was still in with the silage bales.
And my horse was miles away.
She won't go near an electric fence whether it's on or not.
Butter wouldn't melt.
I think she's hoping for more.
Janet's hoping another of their animals
has also been up to mischief this morning.
Virgin tup Owen has just spent his first night with his 65 ewes.
I think Owen is doing quite well.
I think there's a few green bums in the field now.
We won't know until we get some lambs in the spring
whether he's done the job well
and whether he produces as nice lambs as he is.
Owen seems to be getting the hang of things.
Yeah, he's trying.
But the ewes won't stand still until they're in heat.
So, for now, it's just good practice.
Fingers crossed he's right for us.
Next year will be exciting.
Lambing time. See what we've got.
The gestation period of a sheep is five months.
So tupping in early November
means lambs born in early April,
when the new spring grass has arrived
and food is plentiful.
This gives both mothers and their lambs the best chance of survival.
Back on the mainland, along the coast in Appin,
David is about to introduce his new tups
to the ewes gathered off the hills.
These are the sheep that we gathered last night.
I think we got a good number in.
Unlike Janet and Alistair,
who have just four tups for their small flock,
David has dozens for his 550 ewes.
Watch your back.
So much tup testosterone means David and his team have their hands full.
How many is that, four?
They know what's happening.
The hormones are raging, and often at this time of year,
they'll fight and they'll batter the hell out of each other because
the stronger tup wants to nail that ewe.
Each tup will lose 15% of his body weight
during the hectic breeding season,
impregnating 30 to 40 females each.
The first batch of ewes are ready and waiting.
Here the tups come!
This season's new tups are willing and hopefully able.
The tup, when he first goes out, he's full of energy.
He's been away from the ewes, you know, for 11 months.
He's going to be running about
thinking he's wanting to get his way.
This first group, five tups to 170 ewes,
go to the hill park near the farm.
I'm just letting the sheep settle there to see what's going to happen.
If a ewe is coming into heat, they'll go and stand with the tup.
These were bargain tups,
but it looks like they know what they're doing.
Hopefully, if you picked right,
and you've got the ones that are just going to do the business
and get it done, pretty quickly, you hope.
Right, Chance, come on!
In Kirkcaldy, Stevie is hoping for some answers
to the mystery of his sick young bull.
If it had an infectious disease, it would spell disaster.
Simon Ward, the local vet, has the postmortem results.
Basically, the cause of death
was the baby teeth were starting to loosen,
but there were no permanent teeth pushing it through,
so the food was packed around the teeth
and that just obstructed the...
..obstructed the throat and then it couldn't drink either.
Would that...? The silage would be harder for it than grass,
so maybe a combination...?
It is probably more the age than anything,
because that's the time when these teeth are starting to come out.
-If you haven't seen in any other ones...
..you're hopefully just unlucky.
But from what they're saying with animals on the Continent,
it's not that uncommon a thing.
The vet believes the problem was genetic and specific to that animal,
because it couldn't chew the food caught in its throat.
Most importantly, it wasn't infectious to the rest of the herd.
The thing about buffalo,
you never quite know what could be around the corner.
But now that I've got over the initial sort of disappointment
of losing that animal, I'm almost quite pleased and relieved
to get that information today that it's not going to be something
that's likely to affect any more.
It's part of being a farmer.
You see new things all the time and you've got to store that one in the
memory bank and just got to take the positives out of it
and be better equipped for the future.
For all livestock farmers, careful breeding is important.
For pedigree farmers, it's imperative.
South of the border in Carlisle,
potential buyers are checking out prime breeding bulls
before today's auction.
Martin hopes Loki and Luke will be the start of a financial turnaround
for his family.
He is 18 months, he's 17 months.
Martin is doing his sales patter and anybody that comes in the ring
can chat to you and they can ask any questions about the bulls.
You know, this is our bread and butter today for the farm,
so we need a good sale.
Even though we had a really good day yesterday with the bulls,
it doesn't guarantee a good sale.
It has cost me around three grand to get there.
That's our kind of number for costs. We need to be making profit.
I think they are good bulls,
so if I can average five for the pair, I'll be happy.
If I get more, I'll be really happy.
The Carlisle auction is a place for surprises.
Last year, one bull fetched a world record-breaking 140,000 guineas.
Each guinea being worth £1.05.
It's Luke's turn in the ring.
The arena is packed. A good sign.
The bidding starts at 3,000.
All in, 4,500.
6,500 still in.
All yours, 6,500.
Thank you, Dean.
That's more than double his average last year.
Much better, really much better.
I was hoping to get at least five for Luke.
He went for 6,500 to a good home.
So real chuffed.
Now it's the turn of overall senior champion, Loki.
Looking as good as he can be, so there is nothing more we can do.
-The first prize senior champion here.
Martin wants a minimum of 5,000
for what he believes to be one of his best bulls in years.
He's the youngest in the section.
18 months old.
The bidding starts off at 5,000...
..and climbs rapidly.
At 12,000, bid.
Lots of power.
At 12,000 guineas.
It's the best sale Martin's had in six years.
Nothing worse than walking around with a bull not sold,
but he's sold.
We're making £12,000. Really happy. We can celebrate a bit now.
Rearing pedigree bulls means Martin can make these substantial profits,
far in excess of anything a standard beef animal would fetch.
I've got another three or four years of this blood line coming through
and if this is a taste of what it's going to be like,
it's going to be enjoyable and more fun, more exciting,
and, of course, profitable.
Just going to get a photo with the bull. This will go into the paper.
The new breeding programme has produced a winner.
For Martin and his family,
for now at least, the future is looking good.
Next time on This Farming Life...
Good afternoon, Rowan's Dairy.
..dairy farmers, the Rowans, take on the supermarkets
with their doorstep delivery.
The shops make more money out of that milk than we do,
which is ridiculous.
Stevie experiments with a new diet for his buffalo.
Could be something that the buffalo really thrive on.
Could be a complete disaster.
And Robin and Penny's family join in the Christmas ceilidh.
There you go, you even get a kiss from your daughter.
On Mull, Janet and Alastair put Owen, their new young virgin tup, to the test. Stevie risks the wrath of the buffalo mums when he ear-tags four newborn calves, early snow on the Western Highlands helps David gather his sheep and Martin, Mel and Erin hope for a windfall at the Carlisle bull sales.