Sudden abortions are causing anxiety, writes Bryan Griffiths

A month has passed in what seems to have been one constant round of stock-feeding chores. No matter how often I count the bales and the days until turnout, it will be a struggle to make them stretch.

To further eke out cattle feed I have bought a stack of vintage round bale hay from a neighbour who assured me it was baled without rain, but could not remember in which year.

The spell of dry weather at the end of January allowed us to get some dung out and made folding ewes in roots a pleasure. Unfortunately, the crop which appeared to be recovering from the big freeze has withered away and is only producing a fraction of the hoped for forage.

The excitement of a 208% scanning quickly turned to anxiety when a few ewes suddenly aborted their lambs. Since we have vaccinated against enzootic abortion and toxoplasmosis for years, we are now on tenterhooks hoping this is not the beginning of some sinister disease new to Southcott.

A few evenings each month are spent on that favourite West Country winter pastime, skittles. Burrington, with an adult population of about 500, boasts no less than 16 teams of six players. Several teams, in existence since the 1920s include 3rd and 4th generation players from the same families.

The team I joined 25 years ago comprises all stock farmers, and we have yet to trouble the engravers of the club silverware. However, we often incur the wrath of the opposition by losing track of the score while engrossed in a discussion on the fluctuations in the sheep trade or the latest EU directive.

When it comes to what is now called “knowledge transfer”, a game of skittles is second only to a trip to market.





Farmer Focus Livestock:  Bryan Griffiths