Farmer Focus livestock: TB a testing time for Bryan Griffiths

After what was a rather cold month, the sudden rise in temperature at the end of May was most welcome. At last the silage grass is beginning to bulk up and a field of young ryegrass and red clover was cut and wrapped early June.

This year we will chop the baled silage because when feeding bales to ewes in round feeders, they find it much easier to clear up the chopped silage. Last year we didn’t chop any and in the winter had to “pull out” the tightly rolled cores, risking a hernia.

In March we bought sufficient bluetongue vaccine to treat the cattle at turnout as well as the breeding sheep. We planned to treat the lambs later at shearing/worming time. We were fortunate to be able to take advantage of the government’s half-price sale of surplus vaccine. I sympathise with those conscientious farmers who bought all their needs early and missed out on this.

Yet again we have a TB tracing test to perform. The four cattle are on three different blocks of land, so day one will be gathering the offenders, day two will be jabbing and holding the cattle somewhere for the three intervening days and day three will be checking – hopefully, not finding any lumps – and returning to pasture. This would not seem so tedious if all this testing was getting somewhere, but it feels like an utterly futile exercise.

Lambs are enjoying their favourite conditions, green underfoot and dry overhead. The oldest and most forward are receiving ad-lib creep feed and the first batch has already gone to slaughter. There is an annoying problem with scald, but with the present dry weather, I can set up a footbath in a gateway and treat them as I move the flocks between fields.

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