Farmer Focus : Peter Walters

OUR PEDIGREE Devons are calving well, with 13 calving in nearly as many days with 10 heifer calves.

I also went to the recent spring sale at Taunton and purchased six maiden heifers, which will take the Devon herd to 28 going to the bull this year.

I have also purchased 15 organic store cattle this month. These, along with the six Devons, are in a dedicated area isolated from the other cattle to comply with TB restrictions.

Unfortunately, the organic sector isn’t immune from being dictated by the supermarkets. Recently in a national paper there was an article about poultry and how conventionally reared egg layers are used in organic systems after a few weeks of organic conversion. Sadly this is true and also applies to table birds.

The standards state you have to source organic chicks or pullets, which we have done and we make sure our customers know this fact and, as they are available, so should the supermarkets.

Our monitored bird box scheme has had an early start this year. At the end of February we had sparrow boxes with eggs in, and on Mar 5 in the larger boxes a Tawny owl and stock dove were sitting on eggs. On the same day, a Mandarin duck were recorded on the river, taking our species count to 97.

As I write, we are in the middle of TB testing, including the 13 inconclusive results from the last test. These should have been tested 60 days after the last test, it is now 180 days since that test.

The test couldn’t be done any sooner because the vets are too busy testing other herds. This makes a mockery of DEFRA’s new rule of placing movement restrictions on any herd with an overdue test. If DEFRA wants to impose the restrictions, it must ensure there are enough vets available to do the tests.