Monitoring and Maintenance

03 March 2020

March sees the beginning of lambing and calving season for us and with all cows now housed in preparation for the “maternity care”, early lambing ewes in the shed for close monitoring, we are well underway now. As soon as there is a period of dry sunny weather forecast, the first calves and lambs will be out in fields with their mothers.

The bale grazed cattle trial was a real success, enabling cows to spend 10 months outside where they have maintained excellent condition despite the poor winter weather. On the day the cows came in, two decided they enjoyed it so much, they had their calves in the field hours before the rest came in. We will expand this trial next season and hope to out-winter 200 cows.

The butchery at Bowhouse is now almost complete, with Sophie taking delivery of beef, lamb and venison from Balcaskie and pigs from 2 local producers. The meat will be matured in the temperature controlled stores, helping to develop the flavour. Sophie will open the door to the butchery at the March Bowhouse weekend and be delighted to show people around.

As we are in the process of changing breeding away from continental cattle and will become entirely Lincoln Red in a few years, this has opened up the opportunity to sell continental cross, breeding heifers to other farmers. A lorry collected 33 heifers heading for Aberdeenshire recently and we are delighted that they will form the basis of a newly established herd.

With more land now in organic conversion, the mammoth task of fencing and supplying water is being ably managed by Jim and Poul, who have been trialling a new fencing system. Timber fencing posts, commonly used over generations are not lasting long term, due to fast grown trees and limited timber treatment availability. This creates a huge problem maintaining fences and putting up new ones – we simply can’t keep up. So the new Australian Clipex fencing which uses metal posts and removes the need for painstaking hammering in staples, is proving a big hit.

Woodland at Falfield to the North West end of the estate is being thinned to produce timber for our biomass heating systems and organic matter to be added to cattle bedding, helping to store nutrients when spread on land. By thinning the woodland, taking out the smaller trees, allows the larger trees to grow further and fill the space left. Selectively thinning like this also limits any chance of “wind blow” where trees topple over in the wind as they no longer have their close neighbour for support.

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