Murray Garrett farms 96ha
(240 acres) at Rowden
Farm, near Leighton
Buzzard, Beds. The whole
farm is permanent pasture
on heavy clay land. He runs
100 spring calving South
Devon suckler cows and a
flock of 200 Friesland
MY WEDDING in Italy, clear blue skies, radiant bride and romantic setting, is now a fond memory. Time has raced by since Helen and I returned in early August after a brief two-day honeymoon.
In fact, as I write this, the weather appears to have jumped from high summer to late autumn. Perhaps the sudden change will reduce the incidence of fly struck ewes entering the parlour.
Strike is an annual headache for us at this time of year, particularly in winter-shorn ewes. Milking the flock precludes use of dips or insecticidal sprays, so our only course of action is extreme vigilance and prompt clipping of affected individuals. Many more cases and I would have been tempted to shear the entire flock for the second time in 12 months.
Lambs have been wormed and treated with Crovect (cypermethrin). I sheared January-born replacement ewe lambs in the hot spell last month. I hope this will not only reduce their attractiveness to blowflies, but also eliminate the all too regular chore of removing them from bramble hedgerows in winter.
The latest Signet BLUP run for our herd has arrived and makes pleasing reading. Pastiche, our senior herd sire, has an improved beef value of 40 – putting him firmly among the south Devon herd books elite.
Even more pleasing are his scores for four individual performance traits, all of which are in the breeds top 1%. Hopefully, this will help to steer bull buyers in our direction, although both breed society and Signet advertising of top performing young bulls leaves much to be desired. Apparently, the Data Protection Act prevents release of much of the performance information.
Earlier this year, when we were looking for a new sire ourselves, I enquired about which herds were producing the highest index young bulls. I was told that if I knew the name of the bulls concerned I could have the figures. Had I known where to look in the first place I would not have asked the question. *
Pre-empting fly strike is a continual headache for Murray Garrett as milking sheep precludes use of dips and sprays.