Surprise quints welcomed at Manor Farm

This Is Wiltshire: Matt spreads some manure onto the over-wintered stubble while Matt spreads some manure onto the over-wintered stubble while

The week began with a weekend of glorious sunshine.

The line on the barograph has barely twitched from a steady line indicating high pressure.

However, the remainder of the week was rather dull, a little chilly and ended with some rather foggy conditions, which chose to remain for most of the day.

For us and many other farmers, the drier ground has enabled field work to continue unabated.

The terragator and tankers returned to finish emptying the slurry store, this time bringing two attachments, the dribble bar and the injector bar.

The dribble bar just sprinkles the slurry onto the surface of the fields, while the injector puts the slurry into the ground. Injecting the slurry is a good way of applying the liquor to grassland.

Ian has been putting the first dressing of nitrogen fertiliser onto our grass, winter barley and winter wheat.

At the same time, Matt has been spreading manure from the heaps in the fields onto the over-wintered stubble, which Ian has recently sprayed with a herbicide, to desiccate all the weeds before ploughing.

The autumn-born calves on Manor Farm have been given their first oral vaccination to protect them against lungworm, prior to their turnout.

Lungworm causes an infection of the bronchial tubes, leading to a cough known as “husk”.

The white, threadlike worms grow up to 75mm in length, laying vast numbers of eggs.

The minute larvae produced at hatching are swallowed and pass out onto the pasture in the dung, after which they develop and are then able to infect cattle that ingest them whilst grazing.

Good management is also a great help in controlling lungworm, keeping animals grazing in their first year off pasture that has recently had grazing animals on it.

We also use rotational grazing to prevent an increase in the worm burden.

On Ruth’s day off, Ian had a problem in the dairy, housing the plate milk cooler and refrigerated milk tank.

Near the start of milking, the milker always pops into the dairy to make sure all is well and that the milk is going into the tank.

On this occasion, Ian was met by a stream of milk flowing across the floor to the drain.

A section of plastic pipe on the plate cooler had split, so Ian stopped milking to call an engineer to bring and fit a replacement before he could start milking again.

On Stowell Farm nearly half of the pregnant ewes have given birth, with the surprise arrival during the week of quintuplets.

The five lambs could not all stay with their mother, as she would not have enough milk and has only two teats.

Two of her lambs have remained with her, whilst each of the other three have been successfully adopted onto other available ewes.

During the week more ewes with their lambs have been taken out to pasture, with the trailers now taking them to Bowood.

I would just like to remind anyone with a dog to please make sure that it is on a lead when being walked near livestock, especially in the vicinity of ewes and lambs.

On a sunny day early in the week I walked to a part of Manor Farm where someone keeps a number of bee hives.

The bad weather in 2012 had a detrimental effect on some of the colonies but I was pleased to see that the bees were active around the entrances to several of the hives. There are 60,000 bees in a colony at peak, where a single worker produces 1/12 teaspoon of honey in her lifetime,which is about three weeks.

In this time she may visit 2,000 flowers a day. I have also seen a number of bumble bees around the farm and the few sunny days have woken some butterflies.

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