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In your field: Mike Harris - 'One of our bulls has swapped Dorset for Cornwall and Tintagel'

As with most farms in spring, life has been pretty hectic in our part of Dorset.

While the winter routine of feeding, scraping and bedding down continues, albeit with not as much enthusiasm as six months ago, new life in the calving sheds bring a welcome fillip to life on-farm.

 

With the lengthening of days, fieldwork has also commenced, and calving is almost over for another year, with just a few heifers yet to calve.

 

The calving pattern has been slightly longer than other years, with the long hot summer playing its part in interrupting conception rates, but we have been extremely pleased with calves which have hit the ground.

 

And with an even split between bull and heifer calves, we have the best of both worlds, with plenty of bulls to sell next year, as well as some heifers to rear as replacements.

 

Among the new calf arrivals, we have had the first progeny of a new bull we purchased 12 months ago.

 

It is always exciting to see the results of a new breeding programme and Lowergrove See More, acquired from Paul Snell, a Hereford breeder in Buckinghamshire, has given given us three strong calves so far.

 

The first bull to be sold this year has left the farm for his new home. Hilfield Tank, a strong dark-coloured young bull and our favourite of his peer group, has made the journey to North Cornwall to join a pedigree Hereford herd.

 

He will enjoy his home from home, having swapped views of Lyme Bay in Dorset for those of Tintagel and the Cornish coastline. It has also provided us with a perfect excuse to visit that part of the South West to see how he is getting on when time allows.


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Turnout for cattle will hopefully not be too far away now. At this time of year they look just as weary as I feel, with the lack of sunshine on their backs.

 

Similar to last year, the ground has dried out remarkably well considering the near constant rainfall we have had over the last few months.

 

One constant feature of the weather has been a northerly wind, which has not aided grass growth over the last couple of weeks. On the day the southerly wind did come, it picked up strength quite drastically.

 

Kate’s two Oxford and Sandy Black pigs, Bill and Ben, bore testament to this, as I found them stoically sitting on their bed of straw while their ark had disappeared halfway across the field with a gust of wind.

 

With the impending changes to ‘lockdown’ in sight, our holiday cottage has been inundated with bookings, so preparations are underway to welcome our first holidaymakers in mid-April. A quick internet search shows there are only a few holiday let properties in our locality with vacant dates left.

 

Demand on this scale is unprecedented and the visitor numbers coming to our area will be a massive boost to local businesses which have struggled financially for many months now.

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