As the end of November approaches, the days are shortening at an incredible rate. Misty, rainy days seem to be something of a trend this year.

We have had a huge amount of rain, but the temperature has remained unusually high with the last couple of days seeing a high of 14/15degrees.

As always, weather like this has disrupted plans, as we need good bright days to get the spring-born calves inside dry when their backs all have to be clipped before being split into groups of steers and heifers.

We also split off the heifers we mean to keep for home-bred replacements for going to the bull in May, 2021, at this time, with the remainder finished at around 12-14 months.

The calves, unlike the rest of us, have prospered in 2020, boasting a daily live weight gain of 1.44kg at 215 days of age, or 315kg, which we are pleased with.

Our spring-calving cows and heifers have had a week inside during which time they were scanned and blood tested for Johnes. Scanning went well, with just over 94% in calf and there was only one positive for Johnes.

Like everyone, we always hope to see a full page of negative results, however one is manageable. When I looked further into this cow’s records, I could see she has only had steer calves, so the good news is there are no breeding daughters in the herd to be culled.

The spring-calvers are now back outside strip grazing fodder beet whilst also receiving a bale of silage to supplement their diet. We have slowly introduced the cows back onto grazing fodder beet, restricting their daily allowance to give their digestive system time to adjust. It was introduced over 21 days, with a small increase every day or two.

Inside, the heifer calves are receiving a mix of Maxammon barley, maize dark grains and sugar beet pulp with straw silage, which is fed every second day, and like the cows it is a monitored weight per head to ensure they gain the most from the mix.

Steer calves are fed a similar mix in creep feeders, however the dark grains and sugar beet pulp percentage is decreased slightly. They also have unlimited access to straw for roughage.

All breeding sheep have been through the dipper to minimise the effect of wet winter weather during the coming months and tups have been running with the ewes for a full three weeks now with their crayon colour changed every week.

Ewe lambs had teaser tups added to their batches for 10 days beforehand too to help entice them into season, with tups then placed in with them for just 20 days to tightening up lambing.

Fattening lambs have been grazing stubble turnips and a forage rape mix for five weeks. After four weeks the first draw was taken, which equated to approximately 60% of the batch which means they must be thriving on the diet.

We are also hopeful they continue to thrive in this manner as we are down to the last 5% of our lamb crop to finish. Maybe they will all be away by Christmas, fingers crossed...