Farmer Focus: Bad news in the form of TB

Lambing has nearly come to a close at the time of writing this. Less than 10 are left in the shed to lamb and the hill ewes are well over halfway through. 

Also in the shed are the troublesome sheep that don’t like their lambs, a couple with problems such as mastitis and a handful of cads who are being fed twice a day on a bucket.

We have burnt off 12ha, ready to plough and sow with barley. The muck spreaders have been in and the plough is greased and ready to go.

TB worries

We have had our TB test and this is where the bad news starts. It was six months after we went clear last September. 

See more: Read more from our Livestock Farmer Focus writers

One cow has gone down as a reactor and we are now back under restriction. This was the start of the problems as we pregnancy-tested some cows that had been running with the bull. 

He clearly hasn’t done his job and after some investigation it looks like he has injured his crown jewels.

I have made a verbal request for a licence to move a bull onto the holding, but so far it is not looking like they will allow this. They have suggested AI as a suitable alternative.

We have used AI on a couple of cows but I am desperate to turn out and, with ground away from home and some highly strung cattle, AI really is not an option.

Farm visit

Last week I had a day off after several weeks with the sheep. I visited Nick Davis’s  farm Esgair Draenllwyn, Powys. 

Nick has a very impressive dairy unit. Not that long ago it was just an upland sheep and beef farm. Nick and Frances undertook a major conversion installing a cubicle shed and parlour for 600 cows. 

Most of the land is well above 1,000ft. Cows were out grazing in plentiful grass. Well done Nick and Frances, and good luck for the future.

Mark and Helen Williams run 1,000 ewes and 40 suckler cows across 283ha of part owned and rented land.