Shorthorn Calf
Like most farms, whilst “the Christmas break” involves something of a change of rhythm, the main heartbeat continues as livestock need looking after and the place imposes its will on us.  It is notice able that many “third parties” seem to go dormant, with the exception of some of the more engaged agricultural suppliers.    Many professional services and government agencies seem to close doors.  Though sometimes irritating, this does have some advantages where we can get on with doing the things that need doing!
The Shorthorns brought in the new year with a bang, with some nice Heifer Calves.  We have just started a pedigree herd and its nice to have some potential new candidates for the breeding herd.  It has been a revelation introducing the shorthorns, which are always a pleasure to be around.  There seem to be fewer bovine politics than in previous years where our main herd were Limousin Crosses, known for their feisty temperaments.  There is little doubt in my mind that calm cattle grow better – they are certainly safer!
In the wider herd, this was our year for TB testing (we only have to test every 4 years) Whilst we were clear (as expected) its always a tense time.    The cattle were given their Johnes Test, Pregnancy Diagnosis and BVD jabs at the same time.  We are in a “High Health Scheme” so monitor herd health very carefully. 
We have been wintering our “bulling heifers” (18 month old Heifers who will go to the bull this year) outside so far as we can.  We have some good sheltered fields with excellent grass, and where possible the hardy Angus cows thrive outside.  We were surprised to see how fat they were. I think the relatively mild weather has helped.  The thing that normally drives us to bring them in is the damage to wet ground.  We have been grazing them in much smaller numbers and it does look like this has been successful with little damage.
On the sheep front, we have sold most of the rest of last years lambs as “Stores”, meaning they will go onto another farm to be fattened a little more.  This has given us lots more space on the farm to let the ground rest and recover. 
We scan the Ewes next week – this will show us which are in lamb and how many they are having.  This means that their care can be adjusted accordingly.  An exciting moment where we get a bit of a look at how lambing will pan out!