Every year brings a mixture of highs and lows for farm clients and livestock, but 2018 has been one of extremes.
In February an Arctic outbreak and Storm Emma delivered weeks of driving winds and heavy snowfall. The practice was organised so that we had at least one vet and nurse at our main branches. In some cases vets were met by farmers in tractors to get us to emergencies.
Farmers’ priorities were trying to keep livestock fed and watered and, especially for sheep, to minimise losses in drifting snow.
The snowmelt led to floods and with the lambing season starting, farm buildings were crammed with ewes and newborn lambs. Dwindling reserves of hay and silage were depleted. Losses were severe.
Within a few weeks dry weather arrived, and didn’t leave for months. The subsequent drought meant that grass was in short supply. Sheep managed ok, but cows and calves didn’t. Hay and silage crops (needed to feed livestock through winter) were low so some will be on short rations.
Fortunately, early autumn rain led to a flush of grass and late season grazing was good. Thin cows regained condition.
Autumn calving was largely trouble-free at the start, but as grass became more abundant, cows were producing bigger calves. Vets have been busier than most years doing calving and cow caesareans.
So 2018 has been a year of trials and tribulations, but the great thing about our job is that we get regular doses of optimism.
Early lambing has started and I’m looking forward to my favourite event of the year when I pull into a farmyard and am met by the joyful sound of newborn lambs bleating.
All of us at Alnorthumbria Vets wish you a happy and healthy New Year.