Tuesday 25 November, 2014
Wee Mak, the bull, is safely home. Why Wee Mak? Middle letters of his name "Kingmaker" and he's wee. At some point, he'll be Big Mak and then even later, "Big Mac".
He travelled well and has settled fine; he's naturally nervous as he's been running 1000ft up in the Peak District with the herd and little human contact. However, a morning bribe of soaked sugar beet with some calf nuts on top is helping him to settle down. He'll now accept a good scratch on his neck and shoulders. TBH, he'll be lonely and he likes the company, even if it's only a human.
Friday 14 November, 2014
Dan was preparing to drive to Derbyshire next week to pick up our new stock bull, Wharncliffe Kingmaker when we got the results of his BVD test. His TB test had been fine.
His BVD test showed that he was positive for the BVD antibody but negatve for the antigen. The negative antigen result means that he is not a PI; the positive antibody means that he's been in contact with the virus - this could be through contact with the virus itself or from vaccination. In young animals, the contact can be via the dam's colostrum. The breeder confirmed that the bull had not been vaccinated.
Wednesday 29 October, 2014
I don't want to bore you with tales of Taylor's sex life but so far, he's covered five ewes since going in on Sunday afternoon - Pixie and Poppy, Penny, Lucy and a coloured gimmer with a brown face, that's one of Niamh's twins from 2013. I never know their names until they lamb :-) Five down; ten to go.
Of course, one never counts ones lambs before they're up and sucking (and even then, there's no guarantee that they'll make it to sale), but this is the start of the process. In fact, it's not the start - the start was vaccinating the ewes against abortion, checking them for fitness and checking Taylor for fitness, so the sheep year really starts, for us, in early October, before that year's lambs are away.
Monday 27 October, 2014
Since we only have a small number of ewes, it's not financially viable to buy a commercial system for recording data about our sheep but I do like to have a record of some performance data - I couldn't possibly remember everything, or even anything some days.
So since 2009, our first lambing season, I've recorded how many lambs have been born to each ewe, date of lambing, sire, tag numbers. I now also record birth weights and sometimes 30 day weights but I confess to being less rigorous about this than I might be. We don't have a weigh crate so they have to be weighed using the spring balance and by 30 days old, they are pretty heavy to lift :-)
Wednesday 22 October, 2014
Phew, vet’s office called this morning to say he’d be here at 9.30am. I expected (hoped) we’d be the last call of the day.
The cattle came in fine; the four cows were haltered and tied up with some hay; the three calves were haltered and left to throw them selves around (well, Rosie was OK as she’s been haltered before) and Charlie was put out in the field with some hay as he was being a pain in the tonsils and trying to mount the others that were tied up. Always has an eye out for the main chance, does Charlie.
Tuesday 21 October, 2014
Vet’s coming to scan the three cows and the heifer; castrate the bull calf; blood sample the calves for BVD testing and jag the heifer calves to ensure they aren’t in calf.
We’ve got new halters so there’s one for every animal, without having to use the ponies’ halters.
Monday 20 October, 2014
We normally follow the traditional dates for sheep, putting the tup in with the ewes on 5th November for a 1st April start to lambing.
This year, we’re on holiday from 4th to 11th; while the sheep will be checked every day, John doesn’t know them like I do and won’t be able to say which ewe has been tupped on which day.
So I’ve decided to put the tup in next Tuesday 28th October, making the start date for lambing of 24th March. I can then see that he’s working before I go.
Saturday 18 October, 2014
Today’s job (18th October) was to bring our female sheep home from our temporary grazing. Our fifteen breeding ewes and gimmers were at Barry Mill and our eight ewe lambs plus two “nurse” ewes (retired but two of our “originals” so here for life) were at a farm near Arbroath.
A combination of routine and the docile (and food motivated) nature of the Coloured Ryeland made this fairly easy. Since we’ve had the temporary grazing, getting on the trailer has become part of the normal routine and usually means “new grass”, so loading the two small flocks was pretty straightforward; when they see the open trailer, they’re on.
Saturday 18 October, 2014
As regular readers will know, our abattoir arrangements changed this year. We used James Chapman at Shotts and a local haulier to transport all our fatstock in one trip. Although this wasn’t our original choice, it may have worked out for the best.
For two cattle, eight sheep and two pigs, the haulier charged £60. If we had taken the stock ourselves, it would have been four round trips of 180 miles. At 30p a mile, that’s £216, not accounting for our time.
The charges at Shotts are also lower than our nearest abattoir and we get money back on the skins, which we haven’t had before.
Sunday 12 October, 2014
Autumn is my favourite time of year and if it didn't involve sending animals to the abattoir, it would be perfect. Still, it has to be done.
We used James Chapman's Shotts abattoir this year for the first time and, because we had a few animals ready to go and given the distance (90 miles), we used a haulier. Needless to say, I wasn't very comfortable with the changes, which were really forced on us by Dunblane abattoir's refusal to take our stock, following a complaint I made about the relief slaughterman's handling of our cull sheep back in the spring.