Category Archives: Politics

What on earth…..

What on earth is going on… this is a really shocking story from BBC Wales.

Click here to read about the slaughter of horned cows.

It is also reported here in the Daily Mail

We are not in a position to comment much except we are very shocked.

However, I should point out many farmers work with horned cattle safely on a daily basis and shooting loose cattle is very, very dangerous as the likelihood of stray bullets and an unclean kill requiring several shots and much suffering from the animal as well as the onlookers is incredibly high.

Only once or twice in a long lifetime of livestock farming have I seen a loose animal shot out of total necessity because it was maddened and very distressed.  And this was only after we had tried sedation and the vet first. It is totally different from destroying an animal which is contained and I feel it is a very irresponsible action to take.

One wonders what the risk assessment for this terrible action was?

Whatever the real problem was, and they may be more to it, we are all completely outraged and this was not the way to solve it.

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a funny farming face

FACE stands for farming and countryside education. It is an organisation which is passionate about educating children about food and farming.

They have enlisted the help of one of the UK’s funniest comedians, Bill Bailey,  and last summer they made a video to help get their message across. Enjoy.

We love the shorts and wellies!

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the skating rink

The lanes around us have become skating rinks. No grit in sight.

We have asked the council for a stock of  grit and said we’d do the worst areas near to us, will see what  happens.

The water bowser is very busy as many of the troughs are now empty and not re-filling owing to the continues freeze. We also have to keep heaters on overnight to stop the bowser freezing up in the workshop.

Forecasters predict a slight thaw tomorrow, before returning to colder temperatures. We will see.

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a you tube surprise

Just been sent this on email, it is marvellous so had to share it. It momentarily transports us from the struggles of keeping farm animals in icy temperatures.

ENJOY!

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sloe beef

We sent a bullock away this morning to the abattoir, sold to the local butcher, and on the way back to the field the remaining beef cattle stopped and gorged themselves on sloe berries. It was really hard to persuade them to move the final 20 yards to the field.

It sounds lovely, the cattle foraging on autumn berries, however as sloes grow on blackthorn there is a darker side to this tale. If you look carefully in the picture it is possible to see the blackthorns sticking out amongst the berries.

Berries and thorns

Many thanks to http://www.englishcountrywalks.com for their excellent photograph which illustrates today’s blog.

Two years ago, over a period of two months, we had three cattle go down with a very rare illness – woodentongue. It is easily treated with antibiotics and caused when a particular strain of bacterium enters the mouth causing the tongue to swell and harden just like wood. If affected, the cattle are in great pain, have difficulty eating and drinking, and lose condition rapidly.  If not spotted quickly it can easily become fatal.

I was lucky in a way as I had come across it once before. When the second and third cases appeared, a few days apart, about six weeks after the first case, I did contact the vet and we agreed he should come if we had a fourth case, as this was right at the heart of the bluetongue epidemic.

The vet said how rare woodentongue was and he acknowledged and accepted that I had both seen and treated it once before.  The administration of 5 days of antibiotics did the trick, and now we must be extra vigilant watching this batch of almost finished cattle carefully and look out for any drooling or dribbling which are the first signs of trouble.

Last time we identified the cause to a particularly prickly hedge in a different field and we moved the cattle. It will be a pity if any of them have pricked their tongues this morning as they are a good crop of cattle should all be ready and away by Christmas.

Farmers are skilled in animal husbandry and often have years of experience in treating and diagnosing ailments and illnesses.  It is for this reason that this article makes good reading. There has been some suggestion that farmers be downgraded to members of the public when it comes to advertising and antibiotics.

We do use antibiotics, but only when absolutely necessary, as in the cases described above, and always discuss veterinary matters with our excellent vet. He then helps us to decide what medicines to keep on the farm, however it is helpful for us as professional livestock keepers to have additional facts available from the companies and reps which help us to ask more questions when talking to the vet.

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the dry spell [part ll]

I have only heard of one farm which has made a similar quantity of hay to last year. Every other farmer we have spoken to is down by an average of 50% yield. We are down on silage by the same despite being inventive with what and where to cut. As yet we have no hay made as our Stewardship agreements do not allow cutting before 15th July and since that date we have been making silage and combining the oil seed rape.

This dire set of circumstances, on top of the continued lack of summer grazing, is potentially catastrophic, not just for farmers, but for the horse industry too. Small bale hay is already up to £7.00 per bale in some parts, what might the price next February, especially if the weather was bad? Animal welfare could become quite an issue for anyone not prepared to plan ahead and if need be pay up to ensure enough stocks. Last winter my horse ate one whole bale a day through the worst weather and even I need to stock up again. What hay we make here isn’t always good enough quality for horses and even I have to buy from another farmer. Jethro now owes me 31 good bales of best horse hay. I bought them at £3.00 per bale and the same bales from the same farm are now £6.00 per bale. It is not the money I want but the exact replacement of my goods. Could this be contentious issue, I do hope not!

Jethro is planning to ammonia treat all his straw from the arable crops to feed the cattle and bulk up what hay and silage we do have.

A lot now depends on what kind of autumn the whole country has, how much rain, and whether we get a prolonged flush of autumn grass.

Rain dance anyone? Yes please, but not until after the wheat is harvested!

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healthchecks really do save lives

I had been going to  tell you about the industrial quantities of Savlon healing gel [we’d run out of the traditional Savlon cream] used by yours truly over the last few days to fight off the unpleasant and lumpy infection that was brewing on my shin post wasps.. but after using almost a tube of gel it is so much better and I have decided to say something else.

We received a phone call today – a friend of ours has quite simply had his life saved by a BUPA health check, and the subsequent medical care. It has surely been the best money he has ever spent. We wish him a very speedy recovery and look forward to seeing him soon.

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