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Words and photographs Hannah O’Hanlon
With many ewes due to lamb in the spring, ultrasound contractors are in high demand in farms across Scotland.
Linlithgow-based scanner Rob Hardie visited a number of farms in Kintyre last weekend.
Using his specially adapted trailer, through which sheep pass relatively stress-free, Mr Hardie scans ewes individually to check how many lambs each is carrying.
Gel is efficiently pumped onto the scanner which is placed on the triangle of skin next to each sheep’s udder.
Mr Hardie keeps a tally of the number of empties, singles, twins and triplets and the sheep are marked accordingly.
He operates the exit gate using controls at his feet, so the sheep can be released one of two ways, depending on the results of the scan.
Those carrying multiple lambs are prioritised and fed more while those which are empty are fed less or sold.
This minimises the risk of lambing difficulties caused by oversized singles or reduced survival rates due to undersized twins or triplets.
During summer, when demand for his services falls in Scotland, Mr Hardie travels to New Zealand to work.
Mr Hardie scans sheep in a specially adapted trailer. 50_c08scanning01
Twins are pointed out in the scan as the sheep is marked accordingly. 50_c08scanning02
Mr Hardie points out a leg in the ultrasound image. 50_c08scanning03
Ewes are separated after being scanned and fed according to the number of lambs they are carrying. 50_c08scanning04