We love our cattle here at Penbugle Organic Farm …
If you’ve heard of the phrase ‘the cattle are lowing’ (from the festive carol Away in a Manger) you might have wondered just what that means?
The ‘lowing’ refers to the sounds cattle make, usually a deep, low sound as cattle ‘moo’ to one another.
And we just love this sound as it usually means contented beasts here at Penbugle!
We’ve penned two blogs about our heritage herd of cattle so you can hopefully see how our lovely ladies and lads are one of the most important parts of our faming calendar. Here’s the first instalment!
Here at Penbugle Organic Farm, our livestock include the majestic North Devon Rubies heritage herd.
These magnificent heifers, bulls and youngsters keep us on our toes throughout the year, and are treated like kings – or queens – throughout their time with us.
Not forgetting that we are a fully organic, working farm, our heritage herd follows a pattern rather like the four seasons and are hopefully happy with their lives here with us.
So let’s start their story at the beginning of the academic year. When the kids go back to school in September in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, the end of a long summer will find our lovely cows and heifers (young cows) grazing on gorgeous grass, their days spent in the open air and eating all day long. This continues until December here in Cornwall, although if the weather is bad with the onset of winter, this means their grazing can be curtailed earlier.
By this time, they should already be in calf, and they are ready for a bit of rest in the comfort of our barns.
Much like our sheep, we scan the females once they’re ‘indoors’ and we can see if a calf is on the way.
The hazy shade of Winter
The winter months – December, January and February – gives the cows a chance to chew the tasty silage or haylage we’ve prepared earlier in the year. Our girls stay indoors until March, sometimes into April. And then as spring hopefully arrives, our girls are turned out to the grass, which has recovered over the winter season.
As we are a fully organic farm, our pastures are also organic so this provides very healthy nutrition for mum and ‘baby’.
You haven’t forgotten about our lads, have you? Our bulls are so important to us and during this time, they are left to mingle with our dry cows (ie those who’ve not had a calf yet) and are kept separate from those who are carrying.
During April and through to the early summer, one by one, our lovely girls deliver their calves. And they are the cutest calves you’ll ever see. Our ladies give birth naturally, and we allow nature to guide them … but we are on hand if there are any problems. Once a cow has calved, we call them fresh calvers, and this refers to mums who have new calves ‘at foot’ or with them.
So when the daylight hours are at their longest and the sun is at its strongest (June onwards), the bulls are added to the fields once again to do the deed.
And here seems an appropriate time to end this first blog.
In our next chapter, we’ll continue the story of our cattle and their Penbugle journey here in lovely Cornwall.