Lee Robb, 29, works at Ladyyard Farm, Mauchline, Ayrshire. He is a Crossroads YFC member, past Ayrshire District chairman and a current Ayrshire representative for agri and rural affairs.
Although not raised on a farm, I was lucky enough to live in the market town of Lanark and had family and friends on farms which I visited from an early age.
It soon became apparent I would pursue a career in agriculture, and I started by working on a dairy farm at the age of 14.
After several years working both weekends and holidays on the farm, I gained a place at Auchincruive agricultural college and gained a degree in agriculture.
Auchincruive opened up several opportunities for me and I remained in Ayrshire, working at Ladyyard Farm, where I still am today.
Upon moving to Ayrshire, I joined the local YFC – Crossroads.
I was a bit of a late starter at the age of 24 but soon became heavily involved, ultimately having the privilege of becoming Ayrshire District chairman, something I had never imagined doing.
This year I obtained a place on the agriculture and rural affairs trip to Chile, although, due to Covid-19, this is currently postponed, along with several other young farmer events.
Our milking herd is currently performing well, settling into the winter routine, which in Ayrshire seems to start around August.
Most young stock are now indoors and we are going through the routine of clipping and dosing them all.
With the arrival of winter weather, they seem grateful for their indoor housing.
This year has seen changes to the management of transitional cows.
Some cows in the old system were not calving down well – several calving in with retained placentas, or metabolic disorders such as milk fever or ketosis.
Our primary focus became cow intakes and housing.
In January, the dry cows moved into new housing, with more space, a large feed area and a changed diet to encourage higher intakes.
Another feature was locking head yokes, allowing us to bolus cows, avoiding incidents of ketosis.
The new system is working well with most cows calving down and milking well.
It has been a challenging year so far, and with the UK set to leave the European Union at the end of the year, there could be further uncertainty ahead. However, at the time of writing, the Government has agreed to put in law a system that means each new trade deal will be scrutinised by parliament for its impact on animal welfare and British agriculture.
While it does not mean that our standards will be set in law, nor that imports will have to meet our standard of production, it is a step in the right direction.
There is still plenty work to be done though.