We’re back on track again with the dairy heifers, after a year when the rules and regulations surrounding TB greatly disrupted the smooth running of this partnership.

Due to movement restrictions, there was a long delay before calves arrived with me in 2021.

We have since become “Associated Herds”, which should ensure no repeat hiccups in a bureaucratic system that is either unwilling or unable to recognise good old-fashioned common sense.

It strikes me as somewhat nonsensical that the dairy farm involved could rent land (if they wished) a hundred miles from home, and graze calves there after a TB breakdown, and yet not be allowed to bring them to me (a few miles down the road).

This is despite a willingness to communicate on a human level with someone and invite them to inspect my rented farm (where the heifers are kept) which is surrounded by water on one side, and absolutely no cattle on the neighbouring farm.

Presumably the official adopted policy is frightened that by working to the law of common sense and dialogue, then that degree of trust would open the floodgates for abuses of the system.


Now that we are once again moving forward, those frustrations are in the past and with the 2022 calves just arriving here, we’ve been busy preparing the older heifers for synchronised AI.

I’m beginning to feel like something of an old hand at this malarkey, since this is our fifth time of putting them through the programme.

First, I get a text message from “the boss”, telling me what date he has the AI man booked for.

This sends me scurrying to the back of the medicine cabinet to look for that A4 laminated sheet with the suggested timeline – it’s vital that it stays in the same place from one year to the next.

Next comes a lot of confusion and counting on the fingers to establish whether day one counts as the first day or is a sort of day zero.

It’s the now familiar pattern whereby I bring the heifers into the yard far too early for any of the timed injections and insertions to be carried out

A phone call to the vet usually clears this issue up, and is instantly forgotten until 12 months later, when the same pantomime is repeated.

After that, it’s the now familiar pattern whereby I bring the heifers into the yard far too early for any of the timed injections and insertions to be carried out.

Somewhere in the recesses of my memory there still lingers images of beef cattle cautiously approaching yards and handling facilities before exploding over the hedge and through barbed wire, and the subsequent waste of half a day as you attempt to regather them.

Instead, these girls wander past you and into the yard, keen to find out what treats lie in store for them. I know I mention it every year, but I doubt if I will ever tire of working with quiet animals.

Even after them being injected or artificially inseminated, they just hang around the shed, chewing their cud and need driven out to the field again.


In total, 34 heifers were artificially inseminated on Monday and an Angus bull was introduced the next day.

If past years are anything to go by, there shouldn’t be many management issues to deal with, but there are always the ongoing questions from local dairy farmers that seem to consider this New Zealand style of milking cows as completely bonkers.

Of course, in true farmer fashion, they politely stop short of voicing their true opinion, but when they say things like, “they’re small aren’t they?”.

What they really mean is, “I wouldn’t be seen dead with one of those horrible little cows on my farm”.

Or, more frequently, the raised eyebrows as they casually ask: “Is that a bull in with your heifers”, can be translated as, “those aren’t within six months of being ready to serve”.

I find the best approach is to agree strongly with whatever opinion is being expertly delivered. Life’s easier if you do that.

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