Muddy feet for farmers as lambs head to fresh fields

This Is Wiltshire: Mark and son Edward load lambs before returning them to Stowell Farm Mark and son Edward load lambs before returning them to Stowell Farm

What a wild 24 hours we have experienced. More than 2ins of rain has fallen again over the last week.

We are very thankful that, although the ground is rather wet, we are not having to cope with the dreadful floods in Somerset and other areas.

On a walk across Manor Farm, I managed to lose one of my wellingtons. I was walking through a gateway thinking that I was taking the best route at the time.

Unfortunately, I could not manage to retrieve the offending boot without putting my foot into the mud; not a pleasant experience.

On Sunday, Richard and I spent the day with Melissa, who cooked us a delicious Chinese meal, after which Melissa, Natasha, Annabel and I took the ponies for a ride. We left after a storm, just managing to get back as the rain began to fall again.

In the week, Ian and Matt mucked out the barns housing the dry cows, 18-month-old heifers and our Angus bull. After all the manure had gone to muck lumps in the fields, from where it will be spread, the cattle were moved around.

The bull was taken from the heifers, as he had been with them for about six weeks, just to make sure any heifer not pregnant through artificial insemination would be detected by him when she came into season.

The bull has been taken to the dairy unit, where he will be used on some of the cows. The heifers were moved to a cubicle barn, next to the covered yard, so they can get used to cubicles before they give birth in the autumn.

The few dry cows expecting calves shortly were put in the covered yard, bedded up with a deep layer of straw.

The slurry scraper was starting to fall apart, so Richard got out the welding kit and it is now working well. A lorry arrived with a palette of cattle food, but we were still using the borrowed teleporter, which did not have an attachment to unload.

Matt and the driver had to unload the bags by hand. It was fortunate there was only one palette.

On Stowell Farm, Mark and Kevin finished giving the last batch of pregnant ewes vaccinations against two of the biggest sheep killers: pasteurella, a type of pneumonia, and clostridial diseases, such as lamb dysentery and pulpy kidney.

This will give them immunity, passing on high levels of antibodies via colostrum (first milk after birth) to their lambs, protecting them in the first weeks of life.

The ewes were also given a mineral bolus before being driven through a foot bath. It contains iodine, selenium and cobalt and is designed to lie in the reticulum (the first of four ruminant stomachs), where they dissolve and give a supply of nutrients to the animal over 180 days.

Trace elements released by the bolus ensure the sheep do not succumb to problems caused by deficiencies.

Cobalt shortage can lead to a condition characterised by poor appetite and anaemia, a shortage of iodine will affect the thyroid gland and a deficiency of selenium causes a variety of syndromes.

The margin between sufficiency and toxicity is a fine one, so it is essential to get the right balance.

Remaining lambs being finished for meat were brought back to fresh pasture at Stowell Farm, as their field was becoming rather messy, and graded by Kevin.

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