John Alpe farms inpartnership with his parents at New Laund Farm at Whitewell near Clitheroe in Lancashire. Besides the tenanted 80ha (200 acres) at New Laund Farm, the family own a neighbouring farm of 36ha (90 acres), and rent a further 40ha (100 acres). About 60 dairy cows and 60 followers, 500 Swaledale and Mule ewes and 250 store lambs are run on the farms. Bacon pigs are also fed on contract.
AS if milking twice a day for the 2p/litre cut in milk price is not bad enough, now our Friesian Holstein dairy heifers are coming through the milking parlour after calving, which tends to disturb my happy hour.
For the first time in 15 years we have calved them to a black-and-white sire, namely the Genus MOET easy calving F Holstein bull. Previously we have simply run the batch of heifers with a Limousin stock bull.
The change came about because we always seem to be short of black-and-white heifer calves. Last autumn the vet synchronised the bulling heifers to come into service then they were artificially inseminated. As a follow-up we ran a Blonde dAquitaine bull with them.
This being the first time we had synchronised a batch of heifers, I had envisaged them all calving within a period of three to four days. But the first F Holstein calf arrived on July 18 and to my surprise the last on Aug 2. A period such as this 16-day spread may be perfectly normal, but I certainly did not expect it.
At the end of July we dipped and weaned the ewes and lambs. A busy few days, working both at home and at the Blackburn farm. The remaining lambs that had not been marketed straight from the land at Blackburn were weaned and brought back home.
We used OP dip for all the flock, except the ewes that remained at Blackburn. We have tried a pour-on for the first time instead of dipping. It certainly proved to be a lot easier, and for instant opinion they appear to be attracting fewer flies than the sheep we have traditionally dipped at home, but we will have to wait and see. Come October we will put them through the OP dip as well.
All the weaned lambs are routinely drenched with Oramec for treating worms, along with a supplementary vitamin drench.
All horned lambs and Mule gimmers are injected with Heptavac P. While I was carrying out one such injection, a lamb jumped around so much that I inadvertently knocked the syringe bearing needle straight into my own finger, consequently feeling a bit of a prick!
At least now I have the peace of mind knowing I am covered against braxy and blackleg. *
Heifers synchronised and AId at John Alpes New Laund Farm calved over 16 days, rather than the three- or four-day spread expected. They were calved to a black-and-white bull in the hope of producing more heifer calves.