Mar 5th 2020 Back to latest news
During the winter months, some of our outside animal pens will be emptier than during the Spring and Summer. For the welfare of the animals, we try to bring in as many as possible so they are healthy and comfortable. They enjoy warmer, mud-free living.
Did you know that a cow can get frostbite on her teats?
Dave’s cows and youngstock are brought in from the fields and housed indoors. The cattle usually come inside in November and will remain inside until Spring. They will receive any routine health checks and a dose of wormer each, the wormer helps the cows immune system to stay healthy.
The cattle have 24-hour access to water and hay or silage.
Hay and silage are both made from grass that has been cut in the spring and summer. It is then stored for the cattle to eat in the winter.
While in the plastic wrap the grass stays preserved, very similar to freezing food in your freezer at home. Unfortunately while keeping the grass preserved, it does give it a really strong horrible smell!
The cattle also get fed cow cake with is one of their favourite things in the world. They don’t know they are mixed with vitamins and minerals.
Most of the animals have to be condition checked and we increase their hard feed and bulk hay etc. The grass loses much of its nutritional value in the winter. We can also supplement with carrots and vegetables. The guinea pigs love brussell sprouts! The ponies love carrots. The deer and cows welcome fodder beet or turnips when the weather goes cold.
While the animals are housed indoors they create a lot of muck. We deep litter the cows by adding new straw on the bedding that they have been to the toilet on. In the five or six months they are housed indoors they create tonnes of muck!
To muck out we use the forklift with a grab on the front that scoops up all the muck and then tips it into a trailer that transports it to the muck heap.
Then in the summer, we spread all the muck on the fields with a muck spreader, the muck is good for the fields as it is full of nutrients that help make the crops grow.
Checking the buildings for draughts, leaky guttering and ensuring the ventilation levels are right is important.
During the winter months, we carry out repair work to the farm tracks so that they are in good condition.
To repair the tracks we need stone to fill in the potholes with recycled road planings or stone from the quarry. When we get back to the farm we tip the trailer so the stone falls out the back onto a heap. Once on a heap, the next step is to use the bucket on the Manitou to scoop it up and take it down the tracks and tip it in all the potholes.
Ditches are small rivers that go round the outside of most of the fields. It is very important that we keep them clean to stop the fields from flooding. To clean them out we use a digger to scoop the mud from the bottom of the ditch so that the water can flow.
In the winter we go round checking all the trees to make sure they are healthy. Any trees that have died we cut down to make way for planting new trees. We also get some trees fall down in storms. Robbie and Jamie will cut them up to ensure they are not blocking roads or fields. Often there are low branches sticking out that can hit tractors or other vehicles so we cut them off to make it safer. The wood is a good renewable energy source for heating the farmhouse and saves the burning of fossil fuels.
Hedge cutting is really important for the healthy growth of the plants contained in them. You are only allowed to cut between September and February. Often the wettest months of the year which is a complete challenge at the moment. Our bushes are bushy right now as the clay soil that forms our fields hold so much water the tractors would get stuck in trying to cut the hedges.
We try to plant new trees where a tree has died or fallen so that we keep a good area of woodland for nature like birds and insects. We have plans to plant some new trees for 2020.
When it gets really cold snow and ice it makes things a lot harder on the farm. All the animals outside would normally eat grass won’t eat if frozen or covered in snow. We have to take hay to them more often and sugarbeet is often fed. Also, all the water troughs get frozen so we have to go round and defrost them every couple of hours. If it’s really cold and we can’t defrost the troughs we have to bucket water from inside the farmhouse across the fields to where the animals are.
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