So it’s now the third week in May and lambing and calving have had mixed results this year.
My policy of only using New Zealand Romney rams has been a big success and the sheep have more-or-less lambed themselves this year with only a handful needing assistance.
The calving has been less jolly, with a series of unfortunate events which resulted in three dead calves - each for a different reason. Out of a small herd this is a bit of a disaster - however, as far as I can tell, this was merely bad luck and not the early manifestation of the dreaded Schmallenberg virus which has been so prominent in the news this year.
The other slight dampener has been the slow progress in finishing, with even now several cows and sheep left to pop. This I can only assume is a general lowering of fertility due to the appalling weather last year and may be down to something as simple as a lack of sunlight. There is nothing livestock likes better than the sun on its back and for the last twelve months this was in short supply. It also went on to affect the quality of the hay and silage we made last year which didn’t help with their winter feed.
A dry-ish April and May have again this year led to a very slow start for the grass growth and although we had a very nice bank holiday weekend, the temperatures are below average again now. This is again going to be a challenging time for lactating cows and ewes to get the energy they need to feed the young stock from the grass, and whilst they may produce sufficient milk - their own body condition is bound to suffer.
With the average cow having a gestation period of 285 days it is always a fine line between cows who calve slightly later every year with those that catch up a few days each year. Years like 2012 will definitely have a knock on effect and so farmers up and down the country will be crossing their fingers that 2013 will be an improvement.
At the moment the jury is still out. But any spring showers so far have been downpours and when it has been dry the temperatures have been lacklustre to say the least with some chilly winds.
However on the bright side the met office are forecasting a return to normal temperatures by the end of the month and a dry bank holiday coming up. Better still they are predicting a dry and pleasantly warm June – set your BBQ’s to stunned!