Farmer Focus: Building up immunity a farmer’s way

Happy new year to everyone and let’s hope 2015 will be a more prosperous one, with better prices and more workable weather.

The ground is so wet in this part of the world at the moment, I dare not even take the quad bike across any of the fields.

We went for a short break in Wales before Christmas and I am sure things are wetter this side of the country.

See also: Read more from our other livestock farmer focus writers 

We will soon be bringing the ewes closer to the yard for scanning.

I have managed to do a deal with a local farmer for a field of turnips for the ewe lambs and in return I am training his dog. He brought it round the other day and it is a joy to train as it’s really keen and eager to learn.

You certainly earn your money training dogs. It is hard work when the dog does not want to co-operate. I once had one that would not let me in its kennel for three days – it was like a Bengal tiger.

I have not had much time for trialling recently, too busy training dogs and being a new father. Tom, my one-year-old son, got his first Fendt tractor for Christmas. His little face on Christmas day was a picture.

He is lucky – it took me 25 years of hard graft before I could persuade my dad we needed a state-of-the-art Fendt.

Tom is busy walking about now, picking up sheep poo and all sorts, building up his immune system.

This brings me on to a funny story Ken, my agronomist, told me the other day about his little lad. At the age of two or three, while helping muck out the horses and playing in the bale stack, he wandered out with a decomposed cardboard-flat rat in his mouth.

Ken and his wife had only taken their eyes off him for a second. Horrified and gob-smacked, Ken’s wife bathed him in TCP rather quickly.

I am pleased to say he is a strapping lad now and has never had any ill-effects from the experience.


James Read

James farms in partnership with his father, in Louth, Lincolnshire. They farm 400ha of mainly arable land, run 200 breeding sheep and a pack of working/trialling sheepdogs