We love our farm animals and also the work involved with looking after them. The Briarhill herd consists of 250 cattle which are a french breed called Bazadaise. In France the meat has won a gold award for the taste of the meat. The meat is very low in cholestrol and is very lean with a beautiful taste. We breed our own cattle therefore there is no need for us to go and buy from markets except every 2 years we have to buy in two bulls as we would have a lot of heifer calves ready to breed and we cannot breed from their fathers. Ivor is our Bazadaise bull and this year will be the first time for his calves to be born and then there is Graham our Belgium Blue bull who also will be the first time for his calves.
They are split up into two groups with the more beefy type cows going with Ivor. Both groups are fed adlib silage but no corn due to the cows getting to fat to calve. Last years calves are in a seperate group and these also have adlib silage and corn once a day, this is a special blend of corn made up to our specification.
We make our own silage and haylage from our fields as well as making other farmers silage. The cattle are all bedded on straw and so they are nice and cosy in wintertime. The cattle which we do not breed from are sold in the market at 20-25 months old.
Our two farm dogs are called Mo and Maggie. Maggie is a German Shepherd and like to help us when mucking out the stables and Mo helps with spreading it.
The horses are called Nell which is a fresian and Bug the cob.
We have now purchsed some more hens and so lots of lovely eggs for breakfast and for the cakes.
The maternity ward is cleaned out ready for the calvings for the following month and we also wean off the calves from their mothers which can be a little noisy for the first 4 nights but the mothers are glad as this will give them a rest before their next calf. The cattle are fed adlib silage and are bedded on straw which is lovely and warm for them.
The cattle are still housed and fed adlib silage with the weaned calves being fed corn. Cows are sorted out into groups which are near to calving and are then put into the maternity ward. In this shed we have cameras and so we are watching them all the time as they can get into difficulty giving birth. We have a cattle crush and calving aid close by in case this happens. Once the calves are born, we have to make sure they have their first milk drink as this is very important to them for the cholestrom. After few days the calves are tagged and we then inform Defra regarding a passport for them. Every farm has their own unique holding number and this number is on the tags which go into the ear and the calf will have this all his life. Some calves have a curled tongue and cannot grasp the teet and so we will have to help him feed until he gets the idea of the milk bar. This is also the last month for hedgecutting as we are not allowed to cut hedges after february.
The cows will still be calving and are still housed as the land can be very wet here as we are on clay and it is still cool. We will start spreading muck onto our fields which will be 2 years old and waste from the lagoon which will help the grass grow. The cattle are all wormed ready for turnout. Our spring lambs will also be ready for market as they would have put on enough weight to sell. fencing repairs are done before turnout.
Our cattle will still be housed until the second week of April and some of them will be turned out onto the fields but we do have to watch them for staggers which can be fatal therefore we put out magnesium tubs in the fields for them to lick. The cattle are usually happy to be outside and it can look like a rodeo show on turnout. Some of the cattle not calved will still be kept inside because if they go out, we would never get them back in again for the calving and also they would get to fat which is not good. fertilizer is put onto our silage fields when it gets warmer. Last years calves will be turned out the first week of April onto the silage fields to clear them up.
We will still have some cattle in the sheds which have not calved yet therefore feeding and bedding as usual. Ivor and Graham will still be inside as they cannot go out until June 1st. The fields will be rolled and the first cuts of silage will be made which involves mowing the grass and then baling it and wrapping it in plastic. The bales are then put onto trailers and then stacked ready for winter. Some farmers clamp their silage which means they have the grass mown and the it is chopped and ferried back to the farm in trailers and put into a clamp which is a huge area filled with grass and then sheeted over and this grass is not wrapped in plastic.
By now most of our cattle will be outside including Ivor and Graham. They will be in two groups and not near to each other as they are both bulls and we do not want our blue cows getting in with Graham as they would produce big calves and there will be problems with calving. This is the month for haylage making and we are very busy with our tractor/baler and wrapper travelling around the area baling haylage for other people and also silage. In between the baling, the sheds will be cleaned out ready for the winter.
All the cattle will be outside now which is less work in the mornings. The contacting side will still be very busy with haylage and hay making.
Straw will be combined and then it will have to be baled by us during this month. Fingers crossed that we have a good few weeks as straw has to be baled dry as mould could set in if damp and this will be hard to spread for the bedding. The fields may be fertilized again ready for some autumn cuts. Last years calves will be fed corn and also this years calves will ahve a calf creep put out into the fields and so the calves can get their corn but the mothers cannot.
Second cut silage and straw will still be made and even some haylage which will still be a busy month with the contracting side. Hedgecutting also begins whilst the fields are still dry to get onto before they are ploughed. Muck can be spread back onto the land again.
Our cattle are all fetched in off the fields and this is the month for their tb check which is not a vey nice time. The cattle hate this procedure and does upset them as in the past we have had cows abort due to the stress. A few days later the cows will have to be fetched in again and so the vet can check for any lumps which he has to measure. If any animal is found to have a large lump, this animal will have to be destroyed and we will not be able to buy or sell for 6 months. This will not affect the milk producer as the milk is sterilised but does affect the beef producer like ourselves. Hedgecutting continues.
The cattle will be fetched back into their sheds as soon as the land starts getting wet and they are then pd by the vet. This means that they are scanned to see if they are pregnant and the vet will be able to tell us how many weeks they are. We have had a cow abort 4 days after she was scanned which was a shame as she was our best cow. They will all be fed adlib silage and have straw beds.. We will go to market and buy our spring lambs ready for the winter time, they will be wormed and have a mineral and vitamin injection. Our harvesting machinery will be cleaned off and greased and put away in the sheds ready for the next harvesting season. hedgecutting continues.
A lot of feeding still and work during this month especially if the pipes freeze up and we then have to work harder because of the water situation. HAPPY MOOMASS