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Super bull keeps it in the family
THE main suckler herd and calves stay out in the sodden fields. But there are a number of bulls and heifers who will be either herd replacements or for market, who are inside, dry and warm, in the main yards.
They have been weaned from their mothers at the back end of last year when the herd was brought back inside. A number of the bull calves have already been fit enough to go to market, but the heifers usually take longer.
One has just had a reprieve. A plain looking heifer that John was not considering as a herd replacement.
Her charms may not have been apparent to us, but they were to the old bull we sold last year. Her father in fact.
The main reason we sold him on, because he was a super bull, was that any replacements due to come into the herd were all his progeny.
Such niceties did not trouble him, it seems, and he must have duly served this heifer calf when she was nine months old; just as she was weaned.
She was one of the first born last year which would account for her being old enough to excite his attention when still underage. Incest no less.
The first indication we had she was in calf was only a few days ago when John noticed that the heifer was springing a bag.
“I think we have had another management failure,” he said. “One of the heifers due for market must be in calf.”
A day later she calved without assistance and produced a fine young bull calf. Today she goes out in the field with the rest of the cows. I hope they do not tell her off. Being a teenage mum has been a very positive outcome for her. Instead of the market and then abattoir, the open fields beckon.
So everyone is happy including John who, after waiting six weeks to get the silage made, has eventually been able to call in the contractor and get his grass cut.
There was a sprinkling of rain last night and during the evening, but providing it stays reasonably dry today and tomorrow, the herd’s winter feed should soon be assured.
“It is a good job we rescued those partridge eggs and hatched them off,” John said.
“I saw a lot of pheasants and partridge down the fields while I was cutting grass, but no young or juvenile birds. Only adults.”
Meanwhile, our partridge chicks continue to thrive and one of my broody bantams has hatched off 10 guinea fowl chicks.
Although my little incubator is full of their eggs, I cannot find any more as the guinea fowl have moved their nest yet again after one of their flock was eaten by a fox while attempting to sit. For the moment there are no more eggs.
Guinea fowl are more vulnerable than the chickens as they insist on making nests in the undergrowth.
Despite John’s best efforts to keep foxes out, they keep getting in. Wily old foxes indeed.