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Dozens of lambs killed in barn fire which devastated a north-east family farm

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A farmer is counting the cost after more than 50 of his sheep, including dozens of lambs, perished in a major blaze.

More than 30 firefighters from across the north-east were called to Blackpots Farm, near Auchnagatt, after a fire broke out in the outbuildings on Sunday.

They managed to beat back the flames, but a combine harvester was destroyed.

But last night, Alison Lawrence – whose husband Raymond, and son Norman, run the farm – revealed the family was more upset at the loss of their sheep.

Dozens of orphan lambs, which were all in pens in a barn, died along with 13 ewes.

Luckily, however, they have not lost their herd of cattle, which was led to safety.

The farming community has rallied to support the family, with industry leaders last night saying the “heartbreaking” incident had happened at the worst time of year for them.

Mrs Lawrence said: “We can confirm there were some dead livestock, it was some sheep.

“In total 42 orphan lambs died in the fire. They were being reared, and it’s so disheartening. We also lost 13 ewes with lambs at foot.”

The farm was coming to the end of lambing season and it is understood the sheep killed in the blaze were all in pens in a Dutch barn which caught fire.

Mrs Lawrence said she wanted to thank all those in the local area and the farming community for their messages of support and offers of help.

“We appreciate all the inquiries and offers of help we have had – we have been inundated.”

Alford farmer Charlie Adam, chairman of National Farmers Union (NFU) Scotland’s livestock committee, said the incident was heartbreaking.

“Any loss sets a farm back not just financially but psychologically. It is desperately horrible for the sheep and for the farmer. When you are lambing you’re doing your utter best to give the lambs the best start in life.

“When your efforts are rewarded by an event like this, it’s hard to take. People are trying to bring animals to life. It’s a stressful job at a stressful time of year – my heart goes out to them.”

Aboyne farmer Davie Winton, chairman of the NFU Scotland’s north-east committee, said the incident underlined the immense challenges facing the industry.

“In the sheep farmers’ calendar, it’s the busiest time of the year,” Mr Winton said. “It must be devastating for the whole family.

“They breed lleyn sheep, and this is breeding stock for the future which is lost. In the current climate with profit and loss such a fine margin, something like this can devastate a farmer.”

Firefighters from across Aberdeenshire were called to Blackpots Farm on Sunday at around 7pm.

Two engines from nearby Ellon, two from Peterhead, one from Maud, one from Fraserburgh, one from Altens in Aberdeen and one from Stonehaven were called to the scene with a welfare unit to support the crews.

A spokeswoman for the fire and rescue service later confirmed the fire was an “accident”.

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