WITH NO let-up in the wintry weather, the death toll on Scottish sheep farms continues to mount in the unpleasant aftermath of the recent Siberian snow storms.

National Sheep Association Scottish development officer George Milne told The Scottish Farmer: “The main focus is to keep lambs living, and there is now little doubt the snow, sleet and cold is causing serious consequences on many farms with more losses to come.

“Over and above the weather there is the added problem of very little grass and lack of forage. The Scottish Government set up a weather group and we need to have discussions with the government to see if something can be done to take account for the losses being incurred.”

Regarding the ongoing clean-up after the 'Beast from the East', NSA’s Scottish chairman John Fyall said: “We are getting reports of high losses, one farmer in Central Scotland has told us of 150 ewes lost. We want direct evidence, and need farmers to get in touch with George Milne so we can get an idea of what is needed.

“In 2010 an aid package was paid out on actual losses," noted Mr Fyall. "This is something government could consider, but as it was paid based on previous years, it would discount those expanding. In principle though it is something we will push for, but in particular looking at measures which could make the year a lot better.

“We need to think about how to keep ewes in good condition so the next year doesn’t suffer. Also, how to keep farmers spirits and trading accounts above critical. The fallen stock scheme could look at discounts for large collections. With current weather there will be many 'bags of lambs' as well as the ewes," he predicted.

“Store sellers were already having a tough year and they won't feel the benefits of the now high lamb market, and we still don't know how much lamb numbers will be affected. I would urge members to speak to stakeholders like the NSA, and their local MSPs.

“This weather isn’t just an upland issue as many lowland milder areas were caught in a rare drifting snow," he added. "All farmers are now bearing the cost of not just that few days, but also a delayed spring and continuing wintry conditions all combining to make life tough.

“Social media has been a relief and vent for the more IT literate, but to all farmers I would urge them, keep speaking to your friends and neighbours, or pick up the phone to us."

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “We appreciate the challenges that Scottish farmers have faced due to the recent weather conditions and are working with relevant partners to support them. Whilst we would expect farmers to make every effort to comply with animal by-product regulations, we encourage local authorities to take a pragmatic approach to enforcement, particularly in upland areas.

“We will continue to engage with the farming community and local authorities, and are always open to dialogue.”

For in-depth news and views on Scottish agriculture, see this Friday’s issue of The Scottish Farmer or visit