With all Manor Farm autumn crops in the ground the workload has eased slightly, although there are always jobs that can be done. Kevin has just received the winter wheat seed he needed, so can plant the remaining fields as long as the weather remains favourable.

Preparing bans on Manor and Chiverlins Farm for the winter has been very much on the agenda. Ian has been getting our barn ready for a new batch of Aberdeen Angus x beef calves. These calves are crosses from dairy herds and will be arriving here once they have been weaned. They will probably arrive in two lots, which will make management a little easier, while the calves adjust to their new home.

Kevin has also been preparing his grain store on Chiverlins Farm for the months ahead. All the grain left following the sale of most of it post harvest will be fed to the sheep. The grain store was cleaned and remaining grain pushed up into a tidy heaps ready for use in the winter. An area of the store is now available for the storage of machines once all the crops have been planted.

Recently the ram and ewe lambs born to the 100 ewes of the elite flock last spring were scanned for muscle and fat depth. Kevin uses Signet Sheepbreeder Service for the performance recording of his sheep. A technician from Signet Sheepbreeder Service does an ultrasound scan of each sheep after it has been guided along a race to a restraining pen. While in the pen it’s weight is recorded and the site prepared by parting the wool near a small area of the backbone by the third lumbar transverse process. The transducer is then placed on the site and adjusted until there is a clear image. It is at this point the picture is frozen and measurements of fat and muscle depth are taken. The lambs should have achieved a weight of at least 35kg for these measurements to be of value.

One day during the week Kevin joined a webinar organised by the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board. The AHDB is a statutory levy board funded by farmers, growers and others in the supply chain. It’s purpose is to offer help and advice and to develop new markets for their products. This is particularly relevant in the changing world we find ourselves in, where in a shifting landscape, driving productivity and maintaining competitiveness is key to success. The board also provides nutritional information to educate children about where their food comes from and developing apprenticeships for the next generation. The AHDB works for more than 100,000 businesses across the country. It is based in Stoneleigh , Warwickshire and includes an international team developing new export markets.

The webinar that Kevin logged into was one on strategic farming entitled Data Driven Decisions which was put on for sheep farmers. It covered a whole range of issues affecting sheep businesses, including losses at lambing, lameness, growth rates and what could affect these. It emphasised the need to regularly weigh animals, as with thick wool coats it can be difficult to spot ie signs of weight loss.

Weight loss could be due to a number of factors, but doing regular faecal egg counts for levels of parasites that may be present will enable farmers to be proactive. So the emphasis of the webinar was to advise on the necessity of regular and accurate recording, in order to act on any problems at an early stage.

On my recent rambles around the farm I have particularly noticed an abundance of Common Mallow. This is a robust plant which can be found growing in wasteland, hedgerows, road verges and field margins. The flowers are pink with dark veins and can grow in excess of 1 m in height. This has been a good year for the plant and I have seen some particularly fine specimens over the summer and autumn months.