Thursday 3 January, 2013
Although at Christmas, July seems a long way off, I’d been thinking about how we were going to get our cows in calf in 2013. Both are due to calve mid-June, so we would be trying to get them back in calf from the end of July.
The first time round, in 2011, we decided to use AI, as we weren’t confident about handling a bull. Now with AI, the stockman i.e. me has to detect when the cow is in “standing heat” i.e. willing to accept the bull, then call out the AI technician, who inseminates the cow. Again, as novice keepers, we weren’t confident that we could accurately detect standing heat, so we used PRID sponges, which are impregnated with hormones.
Thursday 3 January, 2013
When we bought our two heifer calves in October 2010, we kept them in until February / March time. This was to allow them to get to know us and to be halter trained. Over the winter 2011/12, our two heifers (now in-calf) and our bullock out wintered, with access to a field shelter. Now Shetlands will outwinter quite happily but we don’t have masses of grazing, so during the “summer” of 2012, I was thinking about housing the cattle for at least part of the winter, mainly to protect the grass.
Tuesday 8 January, 2013
Last year, 2012, was the first year we’d kept pigs at Dalmore. We bought three Hampshire gilts, born 1st January, and had them slaughtered on the 21st August. We would have had them away earlier but we had an Introduction to Smallholding course running on the 18th August, so they had a stay of execution until that was passed.
Sunday 13 January, 2013
When we only had three ewes, we couldn’t do what those with bigger flocks would do as a matter of course – for example, splitting the flock into those carrying twins and those carrying singles to allow correct feeding just isn’t going to happen. With eleven in lamb this year, it’s become a bit easier.
However, the perils of small numbers now apply to the cattle. We have two cows with calves at foot and a bullock of about 18 months. Now, when we bought Henry - the bullock – he was six months old and a year younger then Breeze and Blizzard. Now he’s bigger than both of them.
Tuesday 22 January, 2013
Well, Gillian, our scanner from Booscan has been today. As usual, she was prompt and efficient and the eleven ewes were scanned in about 20 minutes. She’s got great kit – looks a bit like “Ghostbusters” when she’s all dressed :-)
For the first time, we’ve got empty ewes – two of them. Nova wasn’t really a surprise; she had a C section last year and the vet said she might not conceive again. However, Nellie WAS a surprise. She lambed for the first time last year and had twin tup lambs. She didn’t have a lot of milk though, and we topped the lambs up with a bottle.