Cattle out winteringIt looks like the beginning of a two week cold snap; the cattle seem to have grown a longer woolly coat almost over night, and its still only third week in November. (I wrote this back then) In general the stock has grown well through the summer and with a reasonable quality of silage to feed should be able to maintain condition on throughout the winter.
As always we have a few that have lost an ear tag, in one case lost both, but then that's not unusual, most often its alongside sheep netting that they get caught or round the ring feeder that the missing tags are found.
The gates are nearly all open between the fields and the herd is ranging across most of the farm, gleaning round the maize stubbles and hedge banks and wildlife strips. We have offered silage and just a few cows are coming back to the ring feeders and pecking at it.
A few days on and we have a covering of snow and they are now on full silage winter feeding, although there is always some that prefer to top up on any grass they can nuzzle down to and pull at hedge banks.
Now I am a cow and telling me tale
Now I am a cow and telling me tale, Owd Fred he's writing it down,
Started life as a little seed, with hundreds I'm not on me own,
Ventualy sent and injected, into a poor old mother cow,
Met with an egg and we welded, together held tight somehow.
Started to double in size, and a head with eyes was formed,
Then four legs and a tail, growing in a ball transformed,
Front legs started to point forward, with me chin on me knees,
Too big to stay where I was, getting shoved out if you please.
Front feet they're out in the cold, me nose is feeling fresh air,
Then me eyes and head they are outside, no going back in their,
Me shoulder and hips it's a struggle, but suddenly drop in the straw,
I'm hear, I'm wet, and I'm breathing, out here its cold and it's raw.
Mother she's got up and lickin, all over me face and me belly,
I sit up and shaking me ed, to get up on me legs they're like jelly,
Up on me back legs okay, onto me knees I'm looking for a teat,
All round me mother's big belly, om looking for something to eat.
Alright now that I've found it, a bunt and the milk flows right quick,
Me belly its full and I'm drying out, mother gives me a reassuring lick,
Off to hide and have a good rest, and mother to find some food,
The gaffer Owd Fred he lifts me leg, bull or heifer he's just being rude.
A couple of days he holds me down, in me ear puts a big tag,
Does the same again in the other, balance me ed so it doesn't sag,
Some reason he looks under me tail, rubber ring he's no need to use,
Writes my number into his little book, he's old but he's no right to abuse.
The gaffer Owd Fred he opened the gate, out onto grass to play,
After a week I found I can run, and found some others who say,
Get ya ed down and taste the grass, big field all bright and green,
All the adults do nothing else, to fill their belly they're keen.
At three months I've got a cough, all me mates the same,
And me tail its getting dirty, only one thing we can blame,
It's worms that got into me belly, and they're hanging onto me gut,
Taking goodness out of me food, belly thinks me throats been cut.
The gaffer goes and gets the stuff, and pours it along our backs,
It soaks right into me spine, soaks right in and me belly reacts,
Loosens all the teeth, of worms and lice and all,
They fall out behind me, new pasture now is the call.
Good summer out on the grass, and autumn chill is in the air,
He's got us gathered in the pen, what he's doing I'm not aware,
All the mothers he's letting out, and now backed up a trailer,
End of the race he's pushing us in, he's nothing more than a jailer.
Big load of us all frightened and hot, unloaded into a pen,
Walking around trying to get out, shouting agen and agen,
Me voice getting soar after three days, milk I want to suck,
But this is the end I'm eating hay, mother's left us all in the muck.
So here I am, inside with my mates, were being fed every day,
All bedded up and comfortable, having silage as well as hay,
A lick of corn and a mineral block, clean water out of the mains,
It beats the water out of the brook, it only comes out of farm drains
.Its testing time, we run down the race, vet lifts up me tail,
Shoves it right up almost over me back, then he sticks in a nail,
No it wasn't it's a needle, a bottle is on the end,
Full to the top with my blood, I hope the hole will mend.
Now it looks like spring time, and the grass is growing again,
Nice to have a good run round, for that I won't complain,
Grass it's so nice and sweet, after all that dry old hay,
I'm bigger now and twelve months old, too big now to play.
Over in a distant field, I can see my mother again,
Not allowed to go and see her, she's really looks well and then,
To my dismay she's got a new calf, a brother or sister for me,
Bunting round and drinking MY milk, how terribly cruel it can be.
I've lost me rough coat from winter, and new short hair has grown,
In the sunshine it shows off real well, glossy with lick marks alone,
I spend the whole summer in deep grass, and lie in the shade of a tree,
Were growing now and nearly adult, my mother won't recognise me.
All my group were two years old, and a new young bull turned in,
It's a Hereford with a big white face, he's running us round in a spin,
I'm not able to tell you what happens next, but catches us one at a time,
One or two of us every day, just getting to know us all in our prime.
Second winter its out at grass, and not a blade to be seen,
Silage in a ring feeder, as much as we want nice and clean,
Frost and snow, and cold winds from the north, shelter under the wood,
Long woolly coat on me back, tails to the wind is the way we all stood.
Me belly its getting real big, and it's not that I've eaten a lot,
And getting swollen between me legs, soar and hard and hot,
Then I got a real bad pain, so off on me own to lay down,
A push and a push and a push again, me water bag its blown.
A real big strain and it stretches me bum, a lump I'm pushing out
A couple more and it drops right out, the relief as I give a shout,
Pick me ed up and av a look round, me very own calf just their,
Jump to me feet and give it a lick, all wet and wobbly and sticky the hair.
I'm now a mother and lickin, all over his face and his belly,
He's sit up and shaking is ed, to get up on his legs they're like jelly,
Up on his back legs okay, onto his knees and looking fa a teat,
All round my big belly, he's looking for something to eat.
Alright now that he's found it, a bunt and the milk flows right quick,
His belly it's full and he's drying out, so I give him a reassuring lick,
Off to hide and have a good rest, I go to find some food,
The gaffer Owd Fred he lifts his leg, bull or heifer he's just being rude.
A couple of days he holds him down, in his ear puts a big tag,
Does the same again in the other, balance his ed so it doesn't sag,
Some reason he looks under his tail, rubber ring he's got to use,
Writes my number into his little book, he's old but he's no right to abuse.
So it is that life goes on, and had ten calves one every year,
Got used to what the routine is, now I'm the leader it's clear,
Show the others where to go, and how to dodge a test,
And wait by the gate for a new field; shoot past Owd Fred do our best.
He gave me a name and it's Chocky, stuck with me right from a calf,
Got to know how Owd Fred ticks, meck im chases round not by half,
Now he's got a real mean trick, tasty feed in bottom of his bucket,
Can't resist I've got to follow, into the corral then we get to suck it.
I've reared a lot of good calves, for Owd Fred to fatten for beef,
Om getting tired and old, to retire it would be a relief,
But no he's keeping me on, to calve again in the shed,
And him to tell his farming tales, in his book that‘s got to be read.
Countryman (Owd Fred)
Sacred cows make the best hamburgers.Mark Twain (1835-1910)