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At this stage 80 of our cows have calved. We have 26 heifer (female) calves out on grass, although we still feed them milk twice a day. Spring has been difficult. The calves got a bug, which spread, from calf house to calf house. 50 sick calves is no laughing matter. Still the hardship of calving time is now nearly over.
After taking a couple of weeks off in January for holidays, I am back on the farm preparing for Spring calving. February 1st marks the official start to calving at Castlefarm. We will have 90 cows calving down, the majority within an 8 week period. This means keeping a close watch on the expectant mothers and making sure that every calf born drinks a feed of milk within an hour of being born.
Today we dried off our spring herd of 81 cows. This will give them a 2 month break before they begin to calve. So no milking on Christmas Day at Castlefarm, yippee.
With only four more of Castlefarm’s autumn herd to calve and most of our calves sold I feel like I can take a bit of a breather from the farm. Our cows are now indoors full time. They eat silage and sleep on straw.
In the spring time, when farmers begin to sow vegetable seeds, they are thinking about the harvest ahead. Throughout the spring the plants are nurtured and, during the summer, the vegetable patch has to be safeguarded from weeds and pests. It’s hard work but we look forward to our produce.
Plenty to do at Castlefarm this month, with weeding an important job to keep under control - and then foraging in the hedgerows for pleasure
The strange weather held things up at Castlefarm this spring and the cows have only just been let out overnight
At last our cows are grazing outside full time. This means less time feeding silage and bedding the sheds with straw. The expense of dairy ration has also been cut out of their diet. Now it is AI season. For six weeks any cow that comes into heat will be artificially inseminated.
The spring is beginning to pick up pace at Castlefarm. At last the end of spring calving is in sight. Since I last wrote this column over 80 calves were born at Castlefarm. Some days we had up to 8 new arrivals.
The year’s new arrivals have begun at Castlefarm. We arrived back from our annual holidays on 2nd of February to nine calves that had been born early. Needless to say, Andrew who works with us full time on the farm was delighted to see us back. Although we started out the month milking 18 cows, each day brings at least one fresh calver that adds to the milking total.