Dai Wilson, our assistant farm manager, tells us what’s been happening on the farm.
We kicked off this year with a much needed skiing holiday in the Alps – swapping snow drifts on the Wiltshire Downs for the slopes of Courchevel.
After a week of pure fun we arrived home and straight back to reality with TB testing. We’re on 60 day testing here at Eastbrook Farm, so it’s a nervous and stressful time for everyone. All cattle (beef and dairy) over 6 weeks old need to be tested, so it’s all hands on deck.
I’m pleased to say it was good news – just one inconclusive result this time out of about 570 animals. That’s as good as it can get without passing, so we’ve got our fingers crossed for next time. If we’re clear in 60 days then we move to being tested every 6 months which would be a big relief – and would mean we can sell cattle again without restriction.
Next on the list of jobs this month was sheep scanning. This is where we check if the ewes are in lamb, and more importantly how many lambs we can expect in the spring. More good news… our ewes scanned at 180% (meaning they’ll have on average 1.8 lambs each) – this is about perfect as too many triplets are difficult for the mothers to look after. But disappointingly we had more empty ewe lambs than expected, which isn’t a major problem as they can run round for a year but it’s something to improve on next time. We’re expecting the first lambs to arrive at the end of March (25th) and will lamb through to early May. Our 600 sheep will become a 1,500 strong flock over that time and much noisier!
Last but by no means least – the best party trick of the month goes to our Kelpie, Taz, who has (almost) mastered the Australian sheep dog technique of running up and over the backs of the sheep. As well as being amazing to watch it helps to push the sheep through the pen (video to follow when I can hold the phone at the same time!). She’s completely fearless.