Farmer Focus: TB relief as poultry welfare takes centre stage

It has been a busy month, but we have some good news. We had our first short-interval TB test since a reactor cow being removed in April. We had no reactors, nor did we have any inconclusive results. 

Since the test we have been licensed to bring a bull to the farm.

Most cows have been served using artificial insemination (AI) and through a good relationship with our AI company, we have learned a lot about cow fertility. 

Having a bull will be less work for us, but I will certainly be using AI in the future.

See also: Read more from our livestock Farmer Focus writers


It has also been a month of inspections to ensure high animal welfare, hygiene and biosecurity. We had our birds delivered to our new poultry shed and had both our Freedom Foods, Lion Code and Farm Assurance inspections within a few days of each other, which has been paperwork heaven.

Lion Code ensures that all eggs are salmonella free. Both inspectors were very helpful and with us being new to the job, gave us tips and advice.

Egg producer group

We have attended our first egg producer group meeting. We were very much the new kids on the block and small fish in a big pond. 

Sarah Louise of LJ Fairburns put us at ease with a very friendly welcome. 

Animal welfare was top of the discussion list, with biosecurity and general farm security with respect to welfare lobbying groups also being prioritised. There was a strong family feel to the evening and we are looking forward to working with Fairburns.


Shearing of the hill ewes is complete and the lamb crop is looking really fit. Silage has gone well with good weather on our side making a stress-free harvest.  

We even made some hay, not something we have managed to do in recent years. It has now become very dry here – dry parts are burning off and grass growth is slowing. 

We have weaned the lambs to tighten up the ewes and give the lambs more run. I like to keep a field of second-cut silage to seal the whole crop in the pit, but the barley is really forward and not far off being ready to cut.

However, the grass has hardly recovered from cutting – we may end up putting lambs to graze it instead.

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