It looks like the full winter routine has finally set in here, though earlier than we’d hoped.
The first thing was to take a look at all the cows’ feet and see which ones needed a trim before housing.
While we’ve been fairly good at culling cows for bad feet, there’s always a couple who seem to be on first-name terms with the hoofcare man we get in to do the job, and need to be pared each year.
Secondly, was to try and recall which cows don’t get on. It usually takes some chopping and changing to recall the bullies, and this year was no different.
Although, we will likely let out the pens of cattle in rotation when bringing the last stock indoors and allow them to safely mix in a field. I’ve heard of vinegar or Lynx body spray being used to mask the scents of the newly arrived cattle, but sometimes it’s better to be safe than sorry.
There’s nothing like cattle fighting indoors to realise the brute force and strength behind them.
Our fodder also looks to be of a better quality than in other years, at least, seeing as it was cut in June – a full month earlier than we’d normally be able to make it. However, we usually make haylage, but as we worked with fresher grass this year, it took a couple of bales breaking apart before we realised that we couldn’t open the bales outside like we had been used to doing.
While we’re alternating between bales of hay and silage, the cows do seem to prefer the hay. Possibly, after a summer of grazing wet ground, they appreciate the dry feed.
Weaning and selling calves
All but the youngest few calves have now been weaned, with those left outdoors alongside a couple of cows to ensure they weren’t going to wander back to the shed in search of the cows. Thankfully, bar a couple of hoarse calves, it went without a hitch and now we can look forward to selling the final bull weanlings.
While we’d originally planned to only sell two further calves, one of the pedigree bulls hasn’t thrived on as expected, so he’ll likely get sold on as a commercial. Though you never know in a mart – some farmer might take a liking to him so he’ll be announced as a registered Limousin. Though it could be to do with how fussy I am with stock quality too.
I can’t see the point in wintering him when he hasn’t got stars to cover him for the Suckler Carbon Efficiency Programme (SCEP) scheme, mea culpa, as I was the one choosing the sires for each cow last year.
Poor Thor got a wake up this morning ?????— Karen McCabe (@LadyHaywire) October 28, 2023
Debating selling Ugo with the last two weanlings instead of wintering him, he's just not done as well as we thought he'd do so might ship him off commercially rather than keeping him on to sell as a breeding bull next year. pic.twitter.com/y7fCSvjQ54
While I am usually fairly on the ball with matching up sires to the cows, here I must have had an ‘off’ day when his dam was in heat. Regardless, she’s to be culled this year anyway, being one of those aforementioned animals with bad feet.
The recent deluges of rain have not been kind to our ground either, which has left us scratching our heads on how to get home two cattle from the bit of land we have away from the farm. We had a similar issue last year with bringing home in-calf heifers, which ended up being walked home instead of the usual trailer.
Hopefully, we won’t have to resort to that this year, as neither of the ladies in question are too good at following a bucket. As you often hear it said about obstinate stock, they don’t appreciate being led nor driven.