Spring is a busy time on the farm. There is lambing, calving, rolling grassland to repair winter damage, ploughing and seeding…all to be done in the space of a few weeks, and, of course, there are still the routine daily tasks of checking and feeding all the animals, repairing fences, dealing with problems as they occur.
We are happily now nearing the end of our spring lambing season. We have had Gemma, a veterinary student, helping Rob with the lambing, as part of her work experience, and this has been helpful.
Our sheep are Lleyns, a tough and hardy breed from the hills of North Wales, and this year our plan has been, weather permitting, to have the ewes lambing outdoors. And this seems to have worked far better than last year when we brought the ewes into sheds to lamb. In fact Gemma has commented on how much better outdoor lambing has worked, compared with her experience elsewhere on other farms, with the vast majority of our ewes lambing unaided. I guess it just goes to show that this is a breed used to lambing outside on their own and we need to trust nature more, and only intervene when really necessary!
But now, with only half a dozen ewes still to lamb, our focus has turned to the pedigree Red Ruby Devon cattle, who are starting to have their calves, the first of these nearly a month ago, as you will have read in our blog. We try to get our cows and heifers to calf in spring, when the cattle have just come through winter, are carrying less condition and produce smaller calves. We find that it is the heavier autumn calves that prove more difficult.
Already this month we have had five healthy calves, all doing well…
And guess what? We are planning for as many of our cows as possible to have their calves out in the field. We think it is far healthier that way!