Category Archives: Silage

24Hrs in Farming #Farm24

For the last few years herds of dairy farmers, flocks of shepherds and a whole coven of farmers wives have  Twitted, Blogged Inrtagramed and Facebooked about a whole 24 hrs of farming showing what they are all getting up to.

Today 9th August 2018 is this years #Farm24 day. What are we all doing this year?

Well for a start 2018 is turning out to be one of the most challenging years for decades in farmings never ending battle with the weather.  Following the wettest coldest spring in living memory, we jumped straight into the longest hottest dry spell ever. Some say farmers are never happy with the weather and there is a good reason for that. Every sector of agriculture needs different weather to the next,

From snow
From snow

Dairy farmers like a cold crisp winter to help keep animals health in the sheds as warm muggy damp conditions are only good for the spread disease such as pneumonia, but they like it to dry up in spring so the cows can get out to grass as early as possible, then they like a steady supply of rain in small doses with good sunshine to keep the grass growing all year.

Sheep farmers don’t like very cold snowy winters as the sheep live out doors and can get buried in snowdrifts and have difficulty accessing water if the pipes all freeze. Then they want a warm dry spring for lambing and a summer without too much sun and heat, and muggy thundery weather is a real bummer as this brings with it more cases of fly strike which I won’t horrify you with the details but its a very nasty thing to happen to a sheeps bottom!

to heat wave

Arable farmers like good snow in the Alps for their skiing holidays and warm beaches in the early summer for their beach holiday (only joking!!) but they need a wet warm spring to bring the good yields and to help swell the grain they then need a good long dry spell with strong sunshine to ripen the grain and let them harvest it all as dry as possible, moving on quickly to ploughing, re planting just before their next holiday!

The weather has played havoc with feed stocks already. Crop are yielding much lower and livestock are already munching their way through the winter feed as the the grass just stopped growing weeks ago. This has forced many beef and sheep farmers to sell stock early at lighter weights and as so many more are coming to the market prices have slumped so income from stock sales will be hit very hard and could be as much as 30% down.

Many farmers like ourselves have diversified into other activities and some of these demand different weather again. For us in tourism this year has been great as our guests have basked in Mediterranean heat with wall to wall sunshine. But spare us a thought on changeover days, running up and down that hill in 30 + degrees getting ready for the next guests, one constant job is checking the quality of the Ice cream sold in the shop. I need to sample a pot every few hours personally just to be sure!

So why not log on to all your social media today and see first hand what your farmers are upto.

Here are a few bits from us!

David

#Farm24 #Farmstayuk

A lot of time is spent in the office
working very hard!
Unloading lorry loads of straw by hand – better than going to the gym!
Checking on the sheep, who seem to have the right idea
Lovely weather to be a baby calf
The jobs are wide and varied, from PR to cleaning the bogs!

 

All Clear!!

Today was a nervous day for me and my cows – it was time for the dreaded TB test. Tuberculosis is a major problem here in the Derbyshire hills and as a result we have to test all the cows and calves on the farm for TB every 12 months.

It is quite a tough and sometime dangerous task as our suckler beef cattle are free range and not so used to being handled as dairy cows who are milked every day!

Beef cows
Our beef cattle tucking into their grub after their TB test

Each animal is given 2 small injections in the skin on their neck and 3 days later the vet returns to check for lumps which indicate a reaction. If a cow reacts to the test and is suspected of carrying TB it has to be slaughtered and a full post mortem examination of the lungs is carried out to determine whether or not they had the disease.

If one animal reacts positively to the test the whole herd is immediately put under movement restrictions until 2 further TB tests have been carried out and are clear of reactors. Obviously this can be doubly disastrous for farmers in terms of cash flow; firstly as you cannot send stock to market and secondly as you have to continue to feed the animals that have to remain on the farm while you wait for a clear test.

Calves
The smaller calves chilling out after the all clear!

What a relief it was today when the vet announced the all clear for the entire herd – phew, celebrations all round !

An excellent outcome as we can now sell this years crop of young stock to other farmers who will “finish” them to the ideal stage for slaughter.

This is great timing as the recent horse meat scandal has seen a big jump in demand for proper home reared British beef and prices are riding high at the moment. Our beef animals will be off to the local Bakewell market over the next few weeks and will be sold on to local butchers.

As the Farmers Weekly reports if you buy from local butchers, farm shops or farmers markets you can trace exactly which farm your meat is coming from and be assured of the highest levels of animal husbandry and welfare, which results in the best quality and taste – neigh, no horse here!

David