July 30 2014 Latest news:
Many smallholders give a home to rescue animals. Simon Dawson is one of them, and here he debunks some myths, looks at the practical, financial and emotional implications and poses the question: What’s in it for me?
LIZ SHANKLAND meets some captivating pet pigs and discovers that size isn’t everything
I’m soon going to be getting three wethers for fleece production as I’m keen on handspinning and other fibrecrafts. These will be the only sheep on our holding, and obviously won’t be bred from. They’ll be pets as much as anything else. Given that they’re non-breeding animals, I’m just wondering what sort of vaccinations and medication that might need on a routine basis, if anything. The three are different breeds, so will be coming from different places.
Whether making hay or silage, the optimum stage of growth for cutting is generally when the grass is just beginning to come into flower, but before it has had a chance to be pollinated and set seed. If the crop is mown earlier than this then the nutritional quality may be higher (due to the greater proportion of young leafy material), but the yield will be low. Crops mown after the optimum growth stage may have a greater bulk, but the nutritional content will be significantly reduced. The majority of grass growth occurs during the months of May and June, with improved pastures usually reaching a mowable stage during the second half of the latter month. More traditional swards, managed under a lower input regime, might not be ready until some time in early July. Where two cuts are being taken, the first would have to be during the first half of June (ideally in the first week), with the second some 6-8 weeks later. From about the middle of August haymaking becomes increasingly difficult, due to reducing day length and heavy dews, although I’ve known hay to be made right through September, and even at the beginning of October. I doubt that the quality was up to much, though!
By the time we get around to early June, sheep really are much better off without their fleeces!
A breed that combines all the best characteristics of its Hebridean ancestors
Nick Weber of Wessex Lowlines explains the reasons for the success of these well-proportioned beef cattle that are well suited to smallholdings