Farming diary - Cows wander via open gates

After escaping from their field, the cows were brought back for milking, although they did not want to leave the sweet grass

After escaping from their field, the cows were brought back for milking, although they did not want to leave the sweet grass

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The week began with torrential storms, accompanied by thunder, lightning and hailstones!

The rest of the week, I am pleased to say, was much quieter, with plenty of warm sunshine. It has, however, been an eventful time.

Early on Thursday morning Ian found a broken electric fence, spotting a set of tyre tracks passing through the gap.

This was quickly repaired and there appeared to be no more damage. Later, Ian left the farm to attend a crops workshop. During each year he has to collect a number of points, attained by attending a variety of training events.

This allows him to remain on the National Register of Sprayer Operators. The event on this occasion was showing some trial plots, where crops had been grown using different systems of management.

It was just before afternoon milking, on the same day, that I received a phone call from Harry, a farming neighbour, to say that he had shut an open gate at the far end of the farm after noticing there were cows in the field.

Knowing the cows could no longer exit the farm, we set out in the Land Rover to fetch them in for afternoon milking. When we arrived at the field they were supposed to be in,we could only see half the herd. I walked these cows back to the milking parlour while Richard went in search of the remainder.

On his journey he found all the gates to the furthest field were open. After closer scrutiny he noticed that a unknown vehicle had driven right through the farm.

The cows were found happily munching a new grass ley recently cut for silage and Richard found it difficult to persuade them to walk the mile back to the farm.

Having driven the cows back for afternoon milking we checked that there were no more escape routes.

The next morning, at 5am, we received a phone call from Ian to say the cows had escaped from their field once more. We had missed another broken fence in the night-time paddock, which had given the cows access to a field of wheat.

Fortunately they did not do too much damage and were found lying down at the edge of the wood. I am pleased to say everything returned to normal, with no more unwelcome visitors.

During the rest of the week more cows’ feet have been trimmed, before being dried off for their two-month rest, before giving birth to their calves.

There has been continued trimming of vegetation under electric fences, a leaking oil pipe on the hedge-cutter has been mended and a general tidy-up around the buildings has been continued. Mid-week we moved the in-calf heifers across a minor road into a fresh field. This operation went very smoothly, as the heifers were quite keen to have access to some tastier grass.

The oilseed rape being grown on two fields on Manor Farm was mature enough to be sprayed with a desiccant, before harvest in about 10 days time. Desiccating the crop at the optimum time ensures more even ripening and reduces the green material, putting less strain on harvest machinery.

On Stowell Farm, Kevin and Mark have sorted through their ewe lambs, to select those they will keep and those available for sale as breeding stock.

During the week, Kevin and Melissa attended a workshop in Gloucestershire. This organised event for lamb producers gave a report on how the sheep industry is operating now and how it is likely to develop in the future.

Another presentation gave details on the new tagging rules and the online recording of sheep movements, on and off farms. Finally they were given the latest information on optimising flock genetics to produce prime, marketable carcasses, which involves weighing at specific growth stages, also measuring depth of fat and muscle at maturity.

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