Hurrah!  The Johnes Blood Tests are back and the cattle have all tested negative.  This is great news, Johnes can lie dormant and doesn’t appear till the cattle are quite mature.  

We do keep a “closed herd” meaning that we breed all our own replacement cows and bring in a new bull periodically.  This reduces the likelihood of infection, but its always a worry!

We scanned the Ewes this week, to see how many lambs they are having.  This means that we can make sure they get the right care and feed.  Ideally, we hope each ewe will have a pair of twins (which she is equipped to feed)  however some have single lambs, triplets or even quads.  Sometimes a ewe will raise Triplets, but normally we try to adopt one of her lambs to a ewe who has a single or who as lost a lamb.  This means that everyone gets enough grub!    This year we scanned at 191% with not too many triplets or quads.  Our target is between 185% and 195% so couldn’t be more thrilled at this stage.


Ewe Lambs cleaning the winter wheat


Traditionally, it was good practice to put sheep onto winter cereals.  This has a number of benefits, cleaning up the crop and removing weeds, but also encouraging the plant to “tiller” (produce additional stems).  Whilst  the dung provides some fertility to both plants and soil micro-organisms, light grazing also increases the exudates or liquid sugars that the plants produce from their roots.  These exudates attract the beneficial microbes and fungi in the soil which make nutrients available in the soil.  This is natures way of making fertility available to plants as they require it!

This is part of the Liquid Carbon Cycle, often overlooked in the current debate, which sees significant amounts of carbon being taken out of the atmosphere by plants and pumped into soil to support the microbial population.  Of course, if the soil is unhealthy, then the correct microbes may not be there!  The maintenance of healthy soil lies at the base of everything we do here.

These ladies will come into the breeding flock next year, we let them mature properly before putting them to the Tup.  They are doing a great job on the WildFarmed Grain Winter Wheat in the mean time.