After being housed in late November the cattle have all been pregnancy scanned by a contractor with an ultrasound scanner. The scan tells us whether or not the cow is in calf and sometimes indicates if the cow is going to have twins. We can also get an idea of when the calves will be born based on the size and development of the foetus. We were pleased to find that 63 out of 70 cows scanned were in calf. The other 7 cows will be culled, some of which are 15 years old which is the maximum age we keep cows to anyway. The main lot of calving will start in February, however, we have 3 due this autumn. The first of which was born yesterday (picture left: Kersey Icon). The spring 2013 born calves were housed at the same time as their mothers. They are now on their winter rations of fodder beet, malt nuts, straw and minerals. They have grown at an average of 1.2 kg per day since birth and will continue to grow at about that rate until they reach slaughter weight at around 600kg.
The open autumn has meant there is plenty of grass for the sheep, they will stay out at grass until the new year when they will be brought in before lambing. We plan to pregnancy scan the sheep in the same way as the cattle just before Christmas.
We have been busy clearing up after the storm, fortunately no buildings were damaged but lots of trees on the farm had branches damaged or blown off. We have been working to clear up the fallen boughs and cut them into logs to be used as firewood. We have also been occupied with machinery and building maintenance.
The ground for spring sugar beet has been ploughed. The winter weather will mean freeze-thaw process will help break up the soil further. Fertiliser containing phosphate, potash, magnesium and salt was spread on the ground using a specially designed self-propelled fertiliser spreader. Soil samples were taken from each field and analysed so the application rates could be altered to suit each soil type. Sugar beet are a crop first found by the sea so an application of 600kg or salt per hectare increases yields.