Farmer Focus : Wilbert Girvan 10/12/04

ALL CALVES are now weaned and cows have started to graze hill land which has not been grazed all summer. Our long-standing policy is to use this saved grass to provide roughage for cows for winter.

Some 2.25kg of concentrate fed on the ground with a snacker feeder ensures they stay in good condition throughout the winter. All cattle, whether wintered inside or out, have been given a pour-on to make sure that internal or external parasites are not a problem for the next few months.

We vaccinate the entire breeding herd of Luings to safeguard our BVD accredited status and by the time you read this we will have pregnancy diagnosed all our cows and heifers. We will blood test for brucellosis and Johnes at the same time.

On most stock farms, animal health and welfare is given top priority. But as every producer knows some losses will occur in spite of our best efforts.

Recently one of our young breeding bulls did not come forward to feed. I called the vet and after an extensive examination he admitted he was baffled. His partner was called in, but, despite their combined experience and expertise, no diagnosis was made.

The bull was humanely destroyed. But what annoyed me more than the loss of a valuable animal was that some stupid new law dictates that no post-mortem can be carried out on the farm or even the knackers yard, but only at the incineration plant. This would have meant the vet driving a round trip of 200 miles.

Needless to say, I will never know the cause of death and, more to the point, our vets will never know the cause of death and have not been given the opportunity to increase their knowledge, which may have saved similar cases in future.

No wonder I take pills to keep my blood pressure under control.