>Yesterday was a big day. I guess for the more experienced livestock farmer this is just another season, but being our first it has its significance!
Preparing your animals for turn out is complicated, in fact it feels very complicated. We had three separate groups. Our mothers with calves who were wintered in the shed, the young bulls who we weaned off their mothers early winter and had to be kept away from females and indoors who were in another part of the shed, AND the heifers and open cows who spent the winter on the hill. Incidentally the girls who spent the winter out look much better than those who spent it under shelter.
The last few weeks have been spent;
- introducing all three groups to electric fencing
- getting them used to moving between different areas in the farm
- worming all three groups
- introducing the non mothers to the mothers (a little bit of physical assertion determining Top Cow ensued – briefly)
- Vaccinating (yesterday) – cows get routinely vaccinated for, Blackleg – a horribly aggressive Clostridial infection that can appear from nowhere, Bovine Viral Diarrhoea which affects the unborn calf and Leptospirosis which can cause abortions and sickly calves amongst other issues.
Having run the first round of vaccinations we turned the herd out into its newly prepared field that had been divided into small paddocks. The grass looks wonderful, lush green and full of buttercups and the cows dived straight in to their first meal of fresh summer grass, it was a pleasure to watch. We will be moving them onto fresh grass every day to 2 days, and will be adjusting the size of the paddocks as we go along trying to ensure an even grazing pattern.