We’ve owned cows many times on the farm before. From my late father, who reared bucket fed calves back in the 1980’s to finish, and then myself in the early 2000’s. The issues surrounding TB testing and the need to have good handling facilities and personnel to help with corralling meant the investment required for a few cows was somewhat uneconomical and the cows disappeared yet again from our farming landscape.
In 2017 we decided to have another go when a conversation about a small herd of Highland cattle became available. We decided to give them a go as they were halter trained which would mean a much easier TB testing and overall handling of the animals. Things were going rather well and after discussing the opportunity with the Richardson-Wall’s we decided to expand the cattle herd to include the more native to us, Hereford cattle. The cost of buying a ready-made herd of 10 cows and a bull meant that an outlay of approximately £15,000 was somewhat a large investment which would prevent the finances in many other projects, so we decided to start a small suckler herd from bucket reared Hereford cross calves. As a bi-product of the dairy industry many half holstein cross calves are born annually. The crosses used are mainly, Aberdeen Angus, British Blue, Hereford and Shorthorn. As a suckler herd we decided to invest in 10 Hereford heifer crosses which duly arrived on the 14th October just a single day before the movement of bovines were placed under restrictions due to a single inconclusive TB test result in the Highlands! She will be tested again within 60 days and her fate will be sealed then. Another inconclusive would mean she would be destroyed, a positive result would mean she would be destroyed of which both would remove the ability for us to sell or buy cattle onto farm until our whole herd went 2 TB tests clear, 60 days apart. In the medium term, this would be fine as we intend to raise our Herefords for the next 18 months on herbal leys and develop them ready to be covered by a bull in the August of 2022. It will, however, prevent us from buying in any more bucket fed calves to either increase the size of the suckler herd or purchase some bull calves to finish for beef and have hung and butchered to provide meat to sell in our shop.