Farmer Focus: Fell gather ends with Huntaway accident

This month has been extremely wet. We can now barely travel on the fields with even a quad bike, let alone anything else.

We gathered the fell near the start of October for tailing, dipping and fluking the ewes. On the whole they are in brilliant condition and there were a few straggler lambs that came in as well.

We had never managed to wean much over 100% off the fell before breeding to Swaledales, but with the change of genetics to a Highlander we have managed 128% weaned from ewes put to the tup.

We still have some pure Swaledales, but the increase in lambing percentage is down to the vigour of the young Highlander cross lambs. They lambed on the field unshepherded.

See also: 13 tips for lambing outdoors

Gathering didn’t end well though. When I went back to get the few we had missed, my Huntaway was working on the crags and fell and has injured himself.

He ruptured his cruciate ligament, ripped the medial collateral ligament off the bone and ripped the meniscus off the joint, so we have six weeks of cage rest, which anyone with a Huntaway will know is pretty difficult to do without them going mental.

Massive credit to both my vets and the referral vets for organising and sorting the surgery to fix it and give him the best chance of recovery.

The cows are ticking along nicely doing 36 litres at 4.2% butterfat and 3.4% protein. A couple more litres would be nice, but we don’t want to lose the milk quality or fertility.

We now have all heifers housed, which has meant we are full and creaking at the seams this year in the old sheds.

We have a massive excess of heifers coming on and currently we have a lot of heifers in the bulling group, with 20 to scan the day after writing this.

Fingers crossed for another good scan like the one a fortnight ago.

We have just about finished eating first cut now so we will have an empty silage pit to move some younger heifers into. This will free up space.

Patrick Morris-Eyton is a Farmer Focus writer from Cumbria. Read his biography.