In farming, there’s always an unexpected issue that crops up on occasion and this month was no different.
On a morning check to our cows away from the shed a calf was noticed to have somehow received a bad gash across his leg.
If there can be a silver lining to any injury, it was that the calf in question had been petted since birth and could be treated on a daily basis with cream and tar while he was lying in the field.
Despite walking the entire 15-acre field he’s in, we’re still none the wiser as to how he managed it, though I suspect it was a piece of iron he may have found in a ditch when picking at the hedge, particularly as the injury occured on a foreleg.
You actually couldn't watch them enough. How on earth did he manage this ??— Karen McCabe (@LadyHaywire) August 8, 2021
Poor boy. At least the flies are mostly gone but he's gonna need a bit of field care to get that right, though he's not lame. Thanks be ta feck he's very quiet, that paid off! pic.twitter.com/9XvI5myfrz
This calf also happens to belong to our oldest cow, the 2006-born "Maxy".
It was supposed to be her final year, but as she’s one of the favourites, she was given another chance, going against all our usual rules. Of course, Sod’s law meant she repeated, and we thought this was the end of the matter.
However, she didn’t get to that age without being a cunning madam, and she duly broke out to the bull we sold to a neighbouring farmer back in spring. It’ll certainly be a story for the future if she holds in-calf this time.
Our last calves of the year are also arriving, which means we have a few cows in and out of the shed so an eye can be kept on them in case of issues.
My father is fond of the saying that it takes just as much to feed a good animal as a bad one, hence we usually look to larger, high-terminal sires in AI as we know our cows well enough to be able to gauge their calving ability with moderate accuracy.
With this penchant for larger bulls, especially in autumn calving, it is a priority that the cow has feed intake controlled which we find is a great help to keep the calves smaller before birth.
As a good example of this, one cow I had been slightly worried about managed to pop out a bull calf from a 17% calving difficulty bull in less than a minute, despite being more than three weeks overdue.
Never ask a pregnant cow why she left her straw bed for a rubber mat! Odd-Ear just made a 17% calving difficulty bull look like a walk in the park ??— Karen McCabe (@LadyHaywire) July 29, 2021
Culard charolais bull calf, by Ecolo (S1043) @doveagenetics pic.twitter.com/wFWyEQhUDQ
Quality over quantity gives us the leeway of a lower stocking rate, and this in turn means less worry about grass shortage in spring and autumn as we try to avoid poaching fields.
Although when everyone else was talking about drought last month, our wet land was almost giving us too much grass to cope with. In time I’d love to raise numbers to make more use of our land but with suckler cattle restrictions a distinct possibility, it’s very difficult to make any sort of plans for the future.
Our new dry shed is finally under construction and thankfully none of the imminently calving cows were overly worried about the bangs and shouts from outside.
With a delay on the steel order it meant that we had to wait some time for the building to get under way, and you certainly wouldn’t want to be waiting too long as the price of steel seems to be rising all the while. Perhaps the delay wasn’t a bad thing, as discussions are still under way about where the entrance should be placed.
Going up fairly quickly ?? pic.twitter.com/es5TFoom5g— Karen McCabe (@LadyHaywire) August 11, 2021