Busy period not quite finished

Logic tells us that lambing and calving is the busy period for farmers and vets alike, however, once lambs and calves are born and out in the fields there is still plenty of work going on.

Saturday, 4th June 2016, 2:00 pm
Farming - lambs Farm survey picture by Jane Coltman

May is always a very busy month for us, and this year has been extremely busy.

Autumn calving cows need to be pregnancy tested before turnout.

So far, the results have been relatively good, with some farms achieving their target of 95 per cent of cows in calf to a nine-week bulling period.

Some farms, however, have experienced poor results in batches of cows, which have required investigation. Issues with the bulls have been top of the list of problems.

Bulls need to be tested before use to ensure that they are going to be able to get cows and heifers in calf.

Most Northumberland cows tend to calve in the spring, which means the bulls are working in the summer. Therefore, the bulls need to be tested for fertility in the late spring.

Of course, calving and lambing is still going on, particularly on hill farms, which have waited for the weather to warm up a little.

Generally, the number of calvings and lambings we see decreases as the summer approaches, but there are some Northumberland farms calving and lambing throughout the year.

Some sheep flocks are able to lamb at any time of year, such as the Poll Dorset and Black Nose Valais breeds.

So while lambing is coming to an end on most farms across the county, there are others preparing their sheep for breeding.

As farmers prepare their stock for turnout, there are many jobs that require veterinary attention.

Last year’s calves, which have spent the winter inside, now need to be tidied up before going out to grass so they need to be castrated and dehorned – a job best suited to the young, fit variety of vet.

Cows’ feet tend to grow throughout the winter months whilst inside on a bed of straw, therefore a common call-out at the moment for our vets is to trim feet.

Our tipping crush makes light work of these cases. The bull or cow is tipped on to its side in order to gain access to the feet, which are first clipped with large toenail clippers and then filed down until perfectly formed.

So the busy period continues, at least for a couple of months yet.