TB trouble on the farm

Arable News

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Daniel began combining the peas this month. We had to wait until the weather was hot enough to burn on any excess moisture from the crop as moisture will encourage the crop to break down during storage. The peas were sown with oats so that when the pea plant naturally falls to the floor the oats will elevate it allowing it to be combined more easily. This should boost the protein levels in our winter feed.

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Cattle News

We are currently registered as having a TB infected herd and as such on 60 days testing frequency. August saw another TB test in which a further 25 reactors tested positive during the test and have been isolated ready to be removed.

In the last two years this brings the total cattle removed from the holding as 104. These numbers cannot be sustained and the future for the cattle at Godolphin is looking bleak.

The debate over what is causing the TB to spread to the cattle has been running for several years and seemingly no closer to finding a resolution. At ground level the financial and emotional pain of loading up seemingly healthy animals to be taken to the abattoir is horrendous. We have no idea what the next TB test results will be but we do know that with only 68 animals left on the holding we cannot sustain this for much longer.

 

Sheep News

The pregnant ewes have been transported to the home farm and are preparing to lamb. Lambing season is very labour intensive and Sam, who is in charge of the September lambers will be up all hours of the day and night.

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The ewes are due any time from 25th September 2016, exactly 147 days since the rams went in. They are given special attention during this last month as any stress to the animal could be maximised whilst heavily pregnant and could result in a dead ewe and lamb. These situations can develop very quickly so the ewes are monitored regularly.

These ewes haven’t been scanned so we have no idea whether they are carrying singles, twins, triplets or completely baron. We would hope that all the first timers would have a single lamb and all the experienced ewes would have twins with no baron ewes nor triplets resulting in a target lambing rate of 1.38%. Overall when our September lambers finish we should have 29 healthy mothers and 40 healthy lambs. In theory at least!

June on the farm and TB results

Arable news

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The peas are growing well. They are already up to head height and flowering which is creating the perfect habitat for bees and butterflies. You can hear the field buzzing with life. We hope to harvest at the end of the summer.

Cattle news

We had another routine Tb test in June. At our last test, 60 days ago, we had one cow identified as a reactor to the Defra administered test. This animal was removed and slaughtered in line with Defra regulations.

This month the same test on the same animals revealed 21 reactors to the test. This is devastating to our herd and the animals were isolated ready for collection by the abattoir. Amongst these reactors was Mark’s favourite cow ‘Snowdrop’, Jess’s favourite ‘Granny Panda’, the last remaining bull ‘Wizard’ and a range of cows and young stock, the youngest animal being just 4 months old.  This photo was taken whilst waiting for collection.

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We are devastated by this latest test and have seriously got to think about the future of the animals held at this holding.   We are left with 6 calves without their mother which have to be bucket fed which is going to prove difficult as they are a couple of months old now and quite big, so fingers crossed, they will take to being bucket fed and adjust to life without their mums.

                  

Sheep news

Its shearing time at Godolphin and all the ewes were brought in to remove their winter fleeces. Matthew and Adam Care brought their equipment to the farm and began shearing the flock with Irik and the Pascoes rolling the fleeces and keeping the sheep moving through the pens and race.

Shearing helps keep them cool in the summer months as well as deterring ‘fly strike’ which involves flies laying eggs in the fleece which then hatch into maggots and begin eating away at the ewes skin. Mark and Sam are constantly observing the ewes to see if any are scratching or rubbing which maybe an indication of what is going on under the fleece. It is as horrible as it sounds and without their fleeces the ewes are a lot less prone to fly strike.

The rams, Walter and Unanimous are in Ferney Park, a field under the Godolphin hill with the main flock. They have their chests painted with a harmless raddle which allows Mark to identify which of the ewes are coming into season and how well Walter and Unanimous are performing. The raddle colour will change through the tupping season and in this photo the rams were marking with a red raddle.

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Lamb boxes

The last of the 2016 lamb boxes will be heading out soon so get in touch quick if you want to make the last order!

The lamb is organically reared at the Godolphin Estate and is both Red Tractor and Soil Association approved. The lamb comes from our closed flock of Pedigree, Poll Dorsets which graze the land at Godolphin Estate.

The feedback from this year’s lamb boxes has been really great and there is still time if you would like to try a lamb box for yourselves. Please telephone Ruth on 01326 573248 for prices, cuts and availability.

Photo 1 : The contents of a half lamb box.

Photo 2: Close up of chump steaks and cutlets

Photo 3: Close up of a shoulder joint

Photo 4: Close up of a leg joint

Other news

Daniel, Sam and Mark prepare the carpark for the Godolphin Fete. Mark has made silage from the grass grown here which will be used to feed to cows this winter.

Mark will be making silage and hay all over the farm in the next few months so keep an eye out for the tractors and machinery. Silage requires good, dry weather for at least three days allowing the fields to be mown, kicked out daily to dry out the grass, ranked up on the final day to allow the baler to neatly roll the grass into a bale and finish it with a net skin, wrapped in plastic to keep in the goodness and stacked in the yard ready for winter. That is a lot of work!

It’s a busy time of year on the farm and the silage making team is made up of Mark, Daniel and Sam and they will work in and around each other to get the silage finished alongside their daily jobs on the farm. Usually, Daniel will mow, Sam kick out, Daniel rank up, Mark bale, Sam move bales into the yard and Daniel wraps and stacks! They put in some long days but by having a small internal team as opposed to a contractor they can work at a slower pace, choosing select fields and working around the ever changing weather!

These photos are of the first and final steps in the process. By the end of the summer the yard should be busting full of these bales!

 

Next month…..

Results of the Tb post mortim of the reactors

Hay making