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G.M.Hunter Ltd.

Tilbrook Grange

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Winner of

Devon Cattle Breeders Herd Competition 2016


November 18

By jameshunter1, Jan 23 2019 09:33PM

Life up on the farm (by James Hunter)

A lot has gone on since my last report. The weather has been kind and all things are looking good.

The most satisfying news on the cattle front has been the result of the whole herd TB test. A dreadful disease covered in the national news. In the 12 months to end of June 18 in England there were 35 511 cattle slaughtered up 8% in 12 months. Wales a further 10 051 were also slaughtered. All the cattle on the farm over a few weeks old have to be tested. We are lucky this farm is on a 4 year testing programme. The majority are annual and in infected areas it can be 6 weeks. All 232 animals were in the buildings ready for the vet to come and set the test up last Tuesday. Two inoculating injections are given in the neck of each animal. The animal is returned to the yard and onto the next one. 72 hours later the same vet returns to read the swelling on the injection sites. We were hopeful that each would get a clear result. Only one animal showed any sign of swelling & had to have an accurate calliper measurement taken. Luckily all animals passed.

Calving dragged on and patience was required for the last ones to deliver. I am pleased to report that there are more calves than cows. A good result for Martyn the stockman. The majority of the cows should now be just in calf again.

The autumn drilling was finished in October in good conditions. The rain came at the right time to enable good progress and germination. After rolling all fields were sprayed with a pre-emergence weedkiller to prevent blackgrass from emerging. Some fields have had to have a second application. Luckily the wheat is looking well and little blackgrass is coming through. An expensive start to the growing season is now over.

We took advantage of the high cereal prices after harvest and have been loading it out of store. The majority of the wheat has gone to Manchester to have it’s starch extracted for industrial processes. Some other wheat has gone to Corby for animal feed and the malting barley to Essex for brewing. It, as we expected, has not all gone smoothly as the price has dropped since the earlier record price for us of £215/ tonne for the barley.

For those who have been looking up may have noticed the wind turbine was without it’s blades for a month. The blades have rotated for 42 270 hours and needed some upgrading. They were let down by a winch on the ground and then dismantled. Things took a bit longer than expected and then the wind was too great for several days to be able to safely winch the blades up and locate the new larger pins. However we should be good again until after it has paid for itself. During the years of operation it has saved 370 tonnes of carbon compared to conventional electrical generation. It was an expensive up grade but better than ignoring the wear. The worst scenario would have been pin failure and a dropping blade!

Finally and fresh in the mind was the charity ball I helped with last Saturday in Huntingdon. The evening went well & a jolly time was had by 150 guests. Some raffle prizes and one auction lot came back to Tilbrook. Thanks also to those who remotely pushed some bids up. The final lot, my head gear, sold remarkably well!

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