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Calving and Covid

Calving continued on into March and the days got busier. On our busiest days we were having at least ten calves a day. That's a lot of calves to move, and weigh! When they first come into the calf pens, they need some help learning to feed from the feeder. We use a plastic feeder with a teat on it, and they need to learn where to get the milk from. It's amazing how quickly they learn when they get the taste of milk, and by the second or third feed they don't need any help at all. But that first feed takes a little while so with at least ten calves to teach it's a bit time consuming. Luckily, we had another Wwoofer, Vanja, from Germany, who was with us for a few weeks to help out. She soon learned what to do, and how to handle calves, and had great patience in teaching them.

The weather was still cold and wet, but we were able to get the milking cows out grazing. This takes careful management, as if Adam, our herdsman, isn't careful, the cows will damage the grass in the paddocks which will reduce growth for the rest of the season. He was able to let them out for a short while each day, and then bring them back to the yard for silage before they made too much mess.

We have both Friesian, and Aberdeen Angus calves born in the Spring. The Friesians will grow up to join the dairy herd. The Aberdeen Angus calves are sold to beef farmers, and as the calf pens filled up we started to make some space by selling the beef calves on. Some were sold locally, but others went as far afield as Warwickshire and Oxfordshire.

Of course, as the month progressed, the Coronavirus outbreak became more serious, and when school was closed we had two more helpers. We are very lucky here that we have plenty of space and fresh air for the children, and they enjoy helping me with the calves.

With the lockdown on 23rd March, our outlet at Craven Arms was sadly forced to close. We saw a massive increase in the milk sold from the farm vending machine, with customers taking advantage of the lack of queues.

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