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Tony Shepherd and John Henderson: Plenty of cattle work completed, and John is off to Oxford


The kids and I took part in the 5km Skipton Santa fun run before Christmas and, with more than 1,200 runners taking part dressed as Santa, it was a great experience.

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Our entrance fees were donated to the cancer charity Manorlands, with dad sadly dying of this disease three years ago on January 8.


We had all the family for Christmas dinner, 13 in total, which Paula coped with very well. I was the assistant chef in charge of peeling the various veg and luckily the role was taken care of before a call came from Alec that there was a calf in need of attention. Pneumonia was the cause even though they have been vaccinated against the disease and, fortunately for the calf, it responded to treatment, and fortunately for me I was back in time to help with the final preparations for Christmas dinner.


We took advantage of the wet weather to trim the tails and backs of the cattle and, although it is not a job I relish, it has definitely been well worth doing; even with our relatively open sheds the cattle have still been sweating in the warm weather before Christmas. Most of the cattle were good customers enjoying having a few itches sorted on the tail heads, but one did a very purposeful backward kick with its left leg; luckily I was to the side but, if it had made contact, I would have definitely been eating hospital food for several days. It did just remind me of the risk of working solo.

Fattening ration

Some of the bigger cattle are on a fattening ration now so we have changed from the moist feed of brewers’ grains and sugar beet to a barley/wheat mix and a protein pellet; the barley can be bought for less than sugar beet and is a better feed. The biggest job seems to be to get the cattle to eat enough so the silage has been reduced and replaced with some barley straw. I am hoping our current use of about six tonnes of the mix each week is not going to be for too long with a fat stock buyer coming on Monday to see if there are any ready.


John had some unwelcome visitors before Christmas cutting the locks on one of his farm buildings and helping themselves; needless to say security has been stepped up to hopefully prevent any further disappearances. After several years of absence he is also attending the Oxford Farming Conference to keep his share farming crusade in the limelight.


John and I wish you all a healthy and prosperous New Year.

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