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In your field: Rachel Coates - 'People are often a bigger problem than their dogs'

By way of an update from last month, calf jackets are now off but almost went back on again when May seemed to get mixed up with March. The main herd is also out, but only just.

The cows being out sends us into overdrive renewing the ’dogs on leads’ notices. Unfortunately, there is an individual who walks the farm footpaths who clearly has a problem with putting their dog on a lead to the extent they tear down all the signs we put up.

 

Most dog owners are very good but there’s always one. Of course well-known people who are not onside with this message don’t help the situation either.

 

Livestock worrying is only a small part of our issues with dogs and their owners; the greater problem being objects left in silage meadows, such as large sticks and tennis balls thrown into long grass where a hapless canine is often unable to locate them.

 

Unfortunately we find them in winter feed. I have been out walking the meadows, looking for objects that may cause issues and while sticks are easy to see, tennis balls are not.

 

Not all dogs are a problem of course. We often have families in the yard, the children running around wildly and their family dog, usually a labrador, is sat very obediently by the gate. It’s fascinating to people watch some of our customers.

 

We’ve witnessed many an argument between couples and one family even decided to sit and drink their milk on our front door step. We’ve even had a child using a portable potty in front of the kitchen window.


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The big peak of calving is over for a while and with an almost calf free June to look forward to, we hope to have time to make more improvements to our youngstock accommodation.

 

Previously we’ve had to sell off surplus youngstock because of lack of housing, but we hope to be able to keep these heifers through to calving in the future.

 

Many discussions and ideas are being thrown about on how best to achieve this, and with calves and youngstock being my area I’m very keen to get what will work for me. Therefore, it’s a surprise that I still answer phone calls from agricultural companies asking for Mr Coates and the caller insisting that only Mr Coates can help them.

 

I remember my mother-in-law complaining of the same problem. It makes me wonder how, when we’ve had two female Prime Ministers, a female president of the NFU and now a female jockey has won the Grand National, this still an issue.

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