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Taylor's progress

Wednesday 29 October, 2014

by Rosemary Champion at 10:54am in Sheep 0 comments Add your own

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.

Sheep records

Monday 27 October, 2014

by Rosemary Champion at 4:42pm in Sheep 1 comment Add your own

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 :-)

Big cow day

Wednesday 22 October, 2014

by Rosemary at 5:54pm in Cattle 0 comments Add your own

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.

Big day tomorrow

Tuesday 21 October, 2014

by Rosemary at 5:20pm in Cattle 1 comment Add your own

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.

New cattle haltersShiny new cattle halters from ropeservices on eBay.

Tupping time

Monday 20 October, 2014

by Rosemary at 5:19pm in Sheep 0 comments Add your own

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.

All sheep home

Saturday 18 October, 2014

by Rosemary at 7:16pm in Sheep 0 comments Add your own

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.

Feedback from the abattoir

Saturday 18 October, 2014

by Rosemary at 5:12pm in General livestock 0 comments Add your own

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.

Fatstock away

Sunday 12 October, 2014

by Rosemary Champion at 9:51am in Smallholding 0 comments Add your own

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.

High Edge Taylor

Thursday 2 October, 2014

by Rosemary Champion at 11:30am in Sheep 0 comments Add your own

With Nemo going for pies in March, we needed to buy a new tup this year. And we have! He's called High Edge Taylor and was bred by Debbie Bostock in Derbyshire. I picked him up in Carlisle on 20th September, so he's been in isolation since then, while he's been wormed and fluked.

Since he seems in rude good health, we let him out today, along with his companion, Little Ted. They are in the "garden" round the caravan - lots of grass for two batchelor boys!

Little Ted is one of this year's tup lambs; his services as a companion for the tup were required because of the untimely death of Dickie, the previous wether. Little Ted is way, way smaller than all the other tup lambs; he's also, coincidentally, out of the same ewe as Dickie.

Cuddling cows

Thursday 2 October, 2014

by Rosemary Champion at 11:16am in Cattle 0 comments Add your own

We moved Storm, our bull, back to our rented grazing a couple of nights ago. He and our 2012 bullock are going for slaughter next week and we've arranged for the haulier to pick up there rather than here, as we're doing work on the barn and track next week.

He's quite canny and loaded a dream; but now he's away, I can get in and give the girls a good scratch and a cuddle :-) He was put in with the cows in August and has been running with them for nearly ten weeks. If last year's performance is anything to go by, all four should be in calf. If they are, it will be Breeze and Blizzard's fourth pregnacy, Annie's second and Bonnie's first.

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