There has not been a lot of progress with the arable since last month due to the wet weather making groundwork impossible for most of the month. However in the recent dry period we have finished ploughing all the land that had sugar beet on it. It will be drilled with spring barley within the next few weeks.
We recently set 200 quail eggs in the incubator and were pleased to get a hatch of 100 quail chicks, these are growing fast and will be fully grown and laying in 6-8 weeks.
We are approaching the busiest time in the livestock year with both lambing and calving beginning. The two cows that were implanted with embryos from the ET flush last month have both been pregnancy tested and found to be in calf. We started calving in the middle of February and are expecting 60 calves over the next two and a half months. Unfortunately one of the first cows to calve died shortly after birth. Her calf is being bottle fed and looked after by Josie and has been named Skye. Calving has continued, so far with no further losses. Approximately 75% of the cows calve on their own. Of the remaining 25% some need help due to the size of the calf and others need mal-presentations correcting such as a calf trying to come back-feet first! When calves are born it is important to make sure they drink some colostrum (first milk) to ensure they inherit antibodies from their mothers to help fight diseases and bacteria while their immune systems are developing. The calves also have their navels sprayed soon after birth and are tagged and recorded within a couple of days. At two weeks of age the calves are dehorned using anaesthetic and a hot iron. The horns are removed at this stage so that the cattle will not injure each other with their horns and are also safer to handle.
The ewes have had a pre-lambing vaccination, timed to be injected 4 weeks before lambing to boost antibodies in the ewes’ colostrum. The ewes will be housed a week before lambing which is due to start on the 10th of March.