Spring is always a busy time for us, and by the time you’re reading this we’ll have finished lambing. We start in early February and aim to have lambed the bulk of our 420-ewe flock by March, when we start calving.
Our scanning percentages were slightly down this year, which we’ve put down to the lack of grass to flush the ewes last summer. There is usually a silver lining in these situations though and the ewes are in great condition, and the lambs were up and away quickly.
Our spring-block herd started calving on 4 March, and we vaccinated the cows in mid-February to protect the calves against rotavirus. We’ve built our business on selling store cattle, so it’s important the calves get off to the best start and aren’t hampered by scour.
We’re lucky that the farm is in a TB clear zone meaning we only have to test every four years. This fell the month before our autumn herd went to the bulls in 2017, and the stress of transporting them from pasture over a mile from our homestead unit impacted the fertility rates.
A necessary evil I know, but the number of cows that calved in the first three weeks was down 15 percent.
I’m pleased to report that we’ve just had the autumn calvers scanned, and they appear to be much tighter, with the vast majority expected in the first three weeks, which is good news. However, the dry summer and shortage of grass seems to have affected the cows with their first calf at foot, with four not getting back in-calf.
Our autumn calvers will be turned out in early-April, with the spring cows and calves following mid-to-late April, any earlier and our heavy-ground suffers.
The weather has been far kinder to us in 2019 so far, grass growth is looking good and with spring well underway we’re looking forward to seeing the stock return to pasture.
This article is part of a ‘Disease? Not On My Farm!’ series which showcases proactive beef and dairy farmers taking pride in their robust herd health and disease management approach.