Archives for posts with tag: cattle

Little Maple the Belted Galloway Calf.

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Born in a rainstorm last weekend. Her mum refused to feed her so she is having to be looked after by the Rangers. She was cold and wet and had to borrow a jumper.

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Her mum got confused and latched onto Apple, one of our other calves whilst she was giving birth. She then refused to accept Maple. Animals are funny things sometimes.

Apple is a very cute calf though, so you can maybe see why!

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The weather was horrible and she was looking very sorry for herself. We helped her out with bottle fed colostrum for the first couple of days. Now we are putting her mum in our cattle crush several times a day so that Maple can feed direct from her while mum feeds on hay.

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The hope is that over the next week or so they will both get the idea, sort themselves out and start to bond properly again. It seems to be going ok so far, Maple is well fed and happy, she seems to be growing well. Damson (the mum) is a bit grumpy about the whole thing, but slowly and gradually seems to be mellowing a bit. For now though its early morning and late evening feeds with Maple the calf for the team here at Black Down.

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Good luck little Maple, we are doing our best for you and hoping you pull through.

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This is the time of year when our Belted Galloway Cattle move off the heath and onto the grasslands we look after. One of our Tenant Farmers will move his animals onto the heath in a couple of weeks, but the belties get a summer change of scene.

cows out of the trailer

They might look cute, and they are very gentle, but they are hardy as anything, they have to be to thrive over winter on the heaths. They certainly like coming down into the grasslands though, you can almost see the excitement in their eyes as they come out of the trailer.

Shottermill cattle

We try and balance a mix of well timed grazing and hay cutting throughout the summer months to promote the wild flower interest and biodiversity of the meadows at places like Swan Barn Farm. It is always such a pleasure to see them heading out across the fields after a move, they make sense of and complete the landscape, I will never get tired of seeing them moving onto fresh ground.

grazing cow damson

This is Damson, she and the other cattle enjoying the fresh grass in these pictures are spending some time at Shottermill in the fields near the ponds. They are waiting the visit of the the Artificial Insemination man… we are all looking forward to some beefy buns in ovens… Good luck girls.

Also this week I was invited over to see the raising of a traditional green oak timber frame being put up by some of the guys who worked with us on the Speckled Wood project.

The pegs wich hold the frame together are being made with oak from Swan Barn Farm. It was a real pleasure to see sustainably produced timber and traditional craft skills being used to put up a beautiful timber frame.

Dylan, Rudy, Rich and the others really are putting together something pretty special.

green oak frame

This is just the first bay of what will eventually be a large timber framed barn, not many of those get built these days, and it is fascinating to see one going up using sustainable local timber being built by skilled local craftsmen. Thanks for the invite guys, hope the pegs are ok!

Feeling inspired by what I saw I am off now to the woods to fetch some of the timber we will be using for our much smaller framing project, our Orchard House, more on that as the summeer goes by I hope.

Testing times weather wise at the moment certainly, the constant storms have brought down countless trees for us to have to deal with, but our cattle had to endure some tests this week too. TB tests that is. We are fortunate in this part of the country that TB in cattle is uncommon, we still have to test for it at regular intervals though. The vet comes and injects the cattle, the return visit a couple of days later to check the injection site provides the results, always a bit nerve wracking even if it is unlikely to be bad news.

cows in pen

First job is too round up all the cattle and get them in the pen. Black Down is a big place, hunting for a dozen cattle up there can take a while. Our tactic is to keep them voice trained. Every day when we check on them we call them, and give them a few handfuls of cattle feed when they arrive. After a while they get the idea and come trotting over when called (most days anyway!) Calling for the cattle creates a bit of extra amusement for our visitors, especially when they think you are looking for a lost dog and a herd of cows comes over the horizon!

On a good day the cows all come trotting neatly into the pen behind you, on a bad day they take one look and refuse point blank. Fortunately when the vet was waiting they were reasonably well behaved and did what was asked of them.

Next they have to be persuaded one at a time through the race and into the crush. This holds them still while the vet does what is required.

cow in crush

Our luck was in and they were given the all clear. Our cattle do such a fantastic job for us, without them we just couldn’t keep the scrub at bay, we do our best for them in return and try to keep them healthy, it is always a relief when the results from the vet are favourable.

Visitors to the hill this week might also have noticed a mini digger creating some strange looking bare areas amongst the heather.

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This is part of our Silver Studded Blue Butterfly reintroduction project.

Creating scrapes diversifies the age structure amongst the heather, young heather grows on the bare areas and provides the habitat conditions required by this beautifull and rare butterfly. It used to be found frequently on heaths around the South East, but as its habitat dissapeared and ceased to be managed it started to dissapeer. It is now pretty rare, we have been managing the heath for the past couple of years hoping to get it into the right condition for the butterfly to be reintroduced.

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As well as creating scrapes we have also been scrub clearing, mowing and creating small burnt patches. The heath has been responding really well and we are hoping to be able to release butterflies this summer. It is going to be really exciting, just one more reason to look forward to the summer! More updates to follow later in the year.

There is plenty of new life to see at Swan Barn Farm at the moment. This years lambs are gambling about and causing mischief in the orchard and in the fields behind the countryside team office is my favourite new addition of the year.

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It’s our new calf “Mirriam”, seen here standing next to her mother. She is one of our Belted Galloway cattle. She is at the farm for the summer with the other cows to help us manage the grassland and encourage wildlife. She is very calm and patient and as long as you don’t try to get too close her mum is happy to show her off to visitors.

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The NT owned herd are vital for our management of a number of sites around Haslemere. They munch through the scrub on our heathlands and encourage wild flowers in our grasslands. We couldn’t do the job without them.

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Somehow when they aren’t around the landscape here just doesn’t make sense. They are a crucial part of the jigsaw of our management of the countryside… And are cute as anything too!

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Our Belted Galloway cows have justed calved, I know lots of people like seeing them at Shottermill and out on the heath at Marley, so thought I ought to post a couple of photo’s.

The small herd we look after carry out conservation grazing work for us on the heathland at Marley. The action of their munching and trampling helps us to keep the common open, and provides the right habitat conditions for a wide range of very important and increasingly rare wildlife.

We have had three steers for a while, and over the winter these were joined by two in calf heifers. They came to us from another NT herd in Gloucestershire, and as is often the way with livestock there was no guarantee the bull had done his job.

After a while the girls started to grow, and eventually it became obvious they had come to us bearing beefy buns in the oven as expected. Then it was just a waiting game. First to come along was George (don’t blame me for the names!).

You can see him above peering out from behind his mum. He was a bit of a problem delivery and Catherine and Matt had to put in some hard work to get him into the world. For some reason cow and calf took a while to bond, but with a bit of help and assistance they both got the hang of things after a while and now they are both doing really well.

May came along on the first of May. She was delivered without any help and has been doing very well right from birth. Here she is with her mum relaxing under the tree’s in the lower field.

Both calves have been loving the warm weather, and have been spotted a couple of times enjoying a bit of sunbathing. They will stay at Shottermill until they are a bit older. They are still a bit shy at the moment, but if you are passing and take a while to look over the gate you should get chance to see at least one of them.

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