Over the last week another 60.5 mm of rain has fallen from the sky above Manor Farm. In fact it has been a dull, wet and often windy week. Needless to say it has been impossible for any land work to take place, so our fodder maize is still waiting to be harvested and the cereal crops are still to be planted. However, while it remains in the field , the quality of our maize as a forage crop is decreasing day on day and it is beginning to become late for planting some of the cereals. There is a need for the autumn planted crops to become established before winter sets in, but against this earlier planted cereals can be more prone to disease and later sown wheat has been shown to help in the control of blackgrass, prevalent on many farms. The establishment of cereals does however decrease when sowing takes place after the start of October, with factors such as variety, and conditions also having an influence.

Kevin has been busy moving sheep from fields prone to flooding, such as those occupying pasture on the sides of the River Avon in the park. It became necessary to move them to higher ground, as the river has become worryingly high. The sheep dogs have been enjoying their work, ending the week moving one of the flocks from a very wet field on Manor Farm to a field on the side of a hill, which has a good covering of grass. Whilst the ewe lambs were gathered for one of the movements the last group was treated with a wormer. In certain conditions lambs under a year old can easily become infected with worms and soon die, so it is essential that everything possible is done to keep them healthy, including pasture management and regular checks on their faeces Older sheep do acquire some immunity.

Early in the week 58 weaned Aberdeen Angus X calves were delivered to Manor Farm. Ian has recently spent a great deal of time preparing an area of the cubicle barn to house the new arrivals, which involved removing the cubicle framework to create an opened straw bedded area for the three month old calves. Since they arrived Ian has spent quite a lot of time checking that the animals are happy in their new surroundings. It is essential to make sure they are all able to feed easily from the feeders and troughs provided and have plenty of clean straw to lie on. When I saw them, they were all lying down happily chewing their cud, which is what ruminants do when they have ingested a rumen full of food. Breaking down and digesting grass is very difficult, so ruminants such as bovines and sheep have four stomachs, although it is really one stomach divided into four compartments. Lacking teeth on the front of their upper jaw, grass and other food is only lightly chewed when ingested, arriving at the rumen where the process of breaking it down begins as it mixes with rumen fluids and microbes. It is later regurgitated and chewed using upper and lower grinding teeth at the back of their jaws before being swallowed again, passing to the next compartment on its journey through the body.

The morning after the calves arrived Ian noticed that a number were coughing. The following morning we decided it would be a good idea to call our vet for some advice. Our vet decided that it would be a good idea to medicate all the calves to boost their level of immunity, as they had just been moved to a different environment. Hopefully this will ensure they remain in good health.