We weaned and housed the calves in October and they have now been treated with a pour on wormer. It is poured onto their top line and then it is absorbed through the skin into the bloodstream. It kills internal and external parasites such as stomach worms, lice and mange mites. It is fairly expensive but very thorough and is the only routine treatment the calves will get in their 18 month lives. At the same time the calves were weighed, they averaged about 350kg each at 8 months old. Bearing the birth weight in mind that is a growth rate of 1.25kg every day and we hope they will continue growing at this rate! They are now being fed a winter ration of malt nuts and fodder beet with a small amount of protein and minerals. The calves take 2 or 3 days to learn to eat the beet but when they get the hang of it they eat about 20kg of fodder beet per day. Fodder beet are only about 20% dry matter, the other 80% is water. We have had a group of autumn calves born, mainly pedigree British Blues, 6 were from the embryos I mentioned earlier in the year. Unfortunately one of these calves did not survive birth. The Hadleigh vets successfully performed 2 caesareans for us; both the mothers and the calves are getting on very well.
When we first put the rams in with the ewes we paint raddle marker onto the chests of the rams so when they mate with the ewes they leave a coloured mark on the wool. All the ewes were tupped in the first 17 day cycle, after this the raddle colour is changed so we can tell if any ewes return to season. So far only 2 out of 100 have been served again. This suggests that lambing time, in March, will be hectic because lots of ewes will lamb within the first 3 weeks.
We have finished drilling all the winter cereals and almost finished ploughing for the spring drilled crops (spring barley, spring beans and sugar beet). 70t of fertiliser has been delivered for application in spring 2011. This harvest’s wheat and beans were sold in August but taken away in November. Prices are up 30% on last year but yields are 15% down. All winter cereals will be sprayed with herbicides. At the time of writing 2 thirds of the sugar beet have been lifted.
Shooting is very busy and going very well.
I have been designing and building a website for our livestock interests, it is now live, although over time we will be adding new sections and pages. It includes information about the farm and our animals. I have made a section for “Simon’s Farming Notes” where there will be photographs and all past notes. Go to www.kerseylivestock.co.uk if you would like to have a look.