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Peter Chapman: A great calving ends on a sour note, but all now out enjoying plenty of grass

Calving has ended today, with the last calf born this morning. We had two cows hanging on till the bitter end and one did not go to script.

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We had to do a Caesarean on the second last one yesterday as she had a twisted womb. We managed with the help of the vet to untwist the womb by tipping the cow but the calf was dead and lying on its back. We couldn’t turn it and had to perform the operation to get it out.

 

It has put a sour end to a great calving but the cow is young and will hopefully go back in calf. We are usually pretty ruthless with culling but she is a super young cow so will get another chance.

 

Replacement heifers have been selected with the aid of my middle daughter, Louise, whose selection criteria is slightly different from Dad’s and mine. Cuteness is not an essential trait in our eyes. All the cows and calves have been turned out to good levels of grass and have settled well with the bulls set to join them shortly.

 

We have also placed our latest batch of chicks. We are rearing a new breed to us this time, Bovans Brown, which seem to be performing well across the country. The breeding company are very keen to get a foothold in the area so have sent top class chicks. After 17 days, we have only had 0.35 per cent mortality from the 36,800 placed, which is exceptionally low but makes me realise what ropey chicks we have been sent in the past by other companies. The hatchery, Joice and Hill, have made a rod for their own back though, as I will expect this quality all the time.

 

The sprayer has been flat out with all the crops and grass receiving fertiliser. The winter barley has also had its T1, winter wheat its T0, with mid-flower on OSR, T1 on winter wheat and weed sprays for the spring barley imminent. We have had some rain so a bit of heat now will see the crops progress nicely.

 

I was honoured to have been nominated to be a one-year director for the Royal Highland Show Society. Fortunately, I was not blackballed and will start my term in July. I will be standing down from the Royal Northern Agricultural Society after seven years and look forward to seeing how one of the UK’s biggest agricultural shows operates.

 

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