A pleasing rise in butterfat

The Wiltshire Gazette and Herald: The first set of twin lambs born The first set of twin lambs born

Once again another week has passed with a mixture of weather systems.

We have experienced everything from warm, windy stormy conditions to frost and sunshine, but I have to wonder out that if March has “come in like a lamb” perhaps it “will go out like a lion”.

We will have to wait and see.

To start the week Richard and I took Annabel and Natasha, who had spent the night with us, for a walk to the dairy to see the cows.

It was a lovely sunny morning ,with the cows all lying down very contentedly in the cubicle barn chewing their cud after consuming a hearty breakfast.

As we walked into the barn through an open door one of the younger cows was standing in the passage.

She looked at us for a while and then must have decided we were a threat, as she turned ran and spooked the other cows. They all got up in alarm, before everything settled down again. Oh dear! The unpredictability of animals.

While in the barn the twins met Ruth, one of our Jersey cross cows which has recently given birth to her fourth calf. Ruth shows many of the Jersey characteristics, although she is somewhat distant from her Jersey ancestors.

She is small,with a pretty head, fine frame and is virtually black all over. She is a good cow, born in August 2008, who has milked well over her previous three lactations.

In her last lactation she gave 9,325 litres of milk, with a butterfat of 5.03per cent. The butterfat of Jersey cows’ milk is always higher than Friesian/Holsteins, so Ruth still has quite a lot of Jersey blood running through her veins.

Natalie did the milk recording over the weekend. We were pleased to hear that the butterfat percentages were much improved, with a bulk sample result of 4.05 per cent brought about by altering the cows’ diet a little.

On Stowell Farm the workload has been gathering pace.

At the beginning of the week Mark and Kevin mucked out all the barns housing the pregnant ewes, so that the beds would be as clean as possible for the start of lambing. The ewes have to be held in outside pens while the barns are cleaned and bedded up. This has to be done very gently as the ewes were due to start lambing at the start of the month.

They also walk through a foot bath again, just to help keep their hooves in good condition At the end of the week a few ewes had given birth just a few days early, but the lambs are strong and doing well.

The first of the artificially inseminated ewes has also given birth to twins on her due date.

Melissa has been busy on the computer during the week. All the details of the recently purchased rams and rams used for artificial insemination have to be recorded in the flock management plan. Then as the lambs are born all their details can be added.

Kevin has recently given me details of problems that showed up in the organs of the graded lambs which were sent for slaughter the two previous weeks.

It was quite interesting as the majority of problems were caused by dog parasites, the infestation being picked up by the sheep grazing pasture contaminated with the droppings of dogs.

The sheep graze a large acreage of parkland on to which dog walkers have access, so the situation could be improved if all dog droppings were picked up.

On a sunny day later in the week I noticed an increase in bird song. There were several skylarks singing as they fluttered in the air above some of our fields, buzzards made use of some welcome thermals and a roe deer grazing in some pasture near the wood.

They would all probably like to see some more lasting springlike weather.

Denise Plummer

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