John Alpe

29 May 1998

John Alpe

John Alpe farms with his

parents at New Laund Farm

at Whitewell, Clitheroe,

Lancs. Besides the

tenanted 80ha (200 acres)

at New Laund Farm, the

family owns a neighbouring

farm of 36ha (90 acres),

and rents a further 40ha

100 acres). About 60 dairy

cows, 500 Swaledale and

Mule ewes and 250 store

lambs are run on the farms.

Bacon pigs, are also fed on


THE sheep and lambs were moved on to the pasture lands, clearing the meadows at the end of April, when a 25:5:5 fertiliser was applied. This cost about £25/t less than last year, which is a step in the right direction. Slurry was spread, followed by harrowing and rolling where necessary.

A local contractor from the next village of Chipping does most of the slurry spreading work. He uses his own large West spreader, but our tractor and bucket to empty and load the slurry. During the course of the day, he complained that our tractor cab door desperately needed some attention. Since I trust his judgment I knew it must be time to renew the fraying bale string!

May is my favourite month. We turn out all the youngstock and dairy cows, although they had to be kept in a few days longer than usual because of some cold wet weather making ground conditions unsuitable. However, by mid-May the weather is glorious, as are grass growth and ground conditions, so spirits are excellent.

We have started to drench the ewes and lambs for worms. This year for the initial dose we are using a white suspension with added vitamin B, in conjunction with a trace element plus copper secondary drench. While gathered and in the sheep pens we take the opportunity to tail out the ewes to try and keep them clean prior to shearing.

The Limousin and Belgian Blue heifer calves that are reared from the dairy herd are ultimately either sold as beef bulling heifers at 18-24 months of age, or run with the Blonde dAquitaine stock bull.

Once the served heifers are settled in calf, they live with the dairy heifers and winter on ad lib silage including an additional 1kg of concentrates. They start to calve and we aim to sell them with six-week- old three-quarter cross calves at foot.

The third heifer to calve started at around 5pm and fortunately it was in a small croft by the farm buildings.

Despite close observation during calving it ate a small piece of embryotic membrane – no larger than a mans handkerchief – and choked. I have heard of this happening but this is the first time we have ever had this problem. &#42

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