Older Moo News
Sorry everyone but it had to be posted - Merry Christmas
14th December 2016
It has been another busy couple of weeks at Red Oak Farm. We have vaccinated all the animals born in 2016 against the strain of pneumonia that we suffer with, unfortunately due to the mild weather we have been having and the fact that the vaccine takes a few days to work two of the young calves have had a few issues meaning that they have also had to be treated with antibiotics; they are on the mend now.
We have also carried out our annual herd blood testing, much to Patches announce as you can see by the expression on her face in the photo. The blood samples have been sent to Biobest to be tested for the diseases we monitor the herd for every year and the results should be back before Christmas.
We have had a few visitors to the farm.
Firstly Ben Pike, a journalist and photographer came to interview George for a feature in next months Midland Farmer magazine. Margo, one of our newest calves thought he was wonderful and performed brilliantly for a photo shoot. Margo decided she was going to be a friendly calf the minute she hit the floor, her mother is Felicity who is also a very friendly cow. Margo along with Hercules are the two very friendly calves out of the latest batch, the others are all very inquisitive but not quite brave enough for cuddles as yet. Heidi is starting to have a tickle of the nose much to Tanya's relief as she wants to start halter training in readiness for showing her next year.
Yesterday we had Will from the Agricultural team at M&S along with Mark Allen and Donal from Dawn Meats visit us.
George showed them around the farm, introducing them to the different groups of cattle, explaining how they are fed and what is in their rations and showing them the technology used to help us. He also introduced them to the new calves and again Margo and Hercules thought it was great fun, at one point it looked like Will was going to try and take Hercules home to London with him.
30th November 2016
It's been another busy time at Red Oak Farm since the last post: we have packed and delivered all our Christmas beef boxes and have had six new arrivals.
The first to arrive was Sparkle, she was born
on the 21st. She is the daughter of Aberdeen, one of our homebred Angus X heifers. Her father is our very own Rock Star.
The next to calve was the first of the Charolais X heifers we brought last year. This caused a bit of excitement at the farm with two local people from the village witnessing their first calf birth and one of the previous owners also coming to watch. Again she had a heifer calf who we have called Ellie. She has been named this because when her mother lived at Mixbury she ran with an old Highland cow called Ellie! Ellie junior's father is Romeo our Red Angus bull.
At 5.30am on the 25th MooCall sent all sorts of funny noises to all our phones and other devices, it even now makes the phone moo! This alerted us to the fact that
Julia, one of our Angus X heifers, had started to calve.
George shot to the farm to find her calving and Felicity, another of the Charolais heifers, having just given birth to another Romeo sired heifer calf. We have called this one Margot.
The reason we had MooCall on Julia was because she was as wide as she was tall and we thought she may have problems calving. George decided to intervene at around 7am and calved a rather large bull calf, this time the father is Rock Star.
The farm's little friend Henry Drake came to visit on Saturday and we asked him to name the calf, he has called him Nin-Nin.
In the early hours of Monday morning another of the Charolais X heifers calved; this one had a lovely small bull calf sired by Romeo. He has been called John after one of his mothers former owners.
John has caused a little bit of a problem, he looks like he is a pedigree Red Angus and his mother did have an embryo implanted into her in February, but when we worked out the dates if he was a pedigree he should have been born about three weeks ago. We may DNA test in the future if he still looks like a pedigree as he grows.
Also on Monday George had to assist in the calving of another of the Charolais X heifers. First one of the calves legs was not pronounced properly but on righting this he discovered that it was a rather large Rock Star sired calf. All was fine and Hercules was born.
That looks like all the calving is done for 2016 as Moppet, the last of the Charolais X heifers due to calve, is not showing any signs. This probably means she has lost her calf at some point over the summer. We will start calving again around the middle of January.
19th November 2016
We are opening the farm again for Open Farm Sunday
next year. This will be held on the 11th June so make sure you save the date.
We plan to again give people a real insight into how we raise our lovely cattle and all that goes on
at an award-winning farm.
We will keep the website updated with all that will be happening so keep checking!
Heidi is now 2 weeks old.
She is very lively and loves to play with Shot and Gun although she will be very happy when she has some friends of her own age. This should be any day now
with seven more due to calve before the end of November.
Last Wednesday we entered the show ring for the first time, attending the pedigree calf show at the East Of England Smithfield Show. Unfortunately Lancelot did not get a look in and Herbie also came last in his class. The judge did like Herbie but as he misbehaved he could not place him. A great day for us and a massive learning experience; we will now work on them in readiness for next year.
Last Sunday we welcomed the families of two of the crewmen killed in the plane that crashed during WW2. They had attended the remembrance service at Westbury church before coming to the memorial tree at the farm, they then went to Turweston Airfield to finish off their day of remembering.
A while ago we found out that George had been
nominated for a McDonald's Farmer Innovation Award.
Unfortunately he did not progress any further but still it was a massive achievement to get a nomination.
Last week we found out that we have been nominated
for the Countryside Alliance Rural Oscars, more news on this as we get it.
8th November 2016
Very early on Sunday morning we had the pitter-patter of tiny hooves again at Red Oak Farm with the arrival of Heidi. Her mother is Cindy, one of our lovely Pedigree Simmental cows and father is Wroxall Cocker-Leeky-Soup. We brought some semen straws of his and this is the first calf to be born sired by him, it is also the first calf to be born that was Artificially inseminated by George.
4th November 2016
OK so it is almost another week since we promised to update all that has been happening since
our last update in September! As always it has been somewhat busy with building work, the maize harvest; arable work; generally looking after the cattle; housing some of the cattle; halter training for a show; a few days away and some very sad news. Read on for more info!
With housing fast approaching it has been a little chaotic getting the new cattle barn ready, not helped by the fact that this was our storage barn so we have also had to convert the lean-to building into a new
feed- store and implement shed. We are happy to say that apart from a few little bits everything is now done and the barn has cattle in it already.
It all got a little noisy at Red Oak Farm on the 17th October; this was the week we weaned the calves.
On the Monday we weaned most of the Simmental calves then on the Wednesday we weaned all the Angus calves, this then left a few Simmentals to wean on the Saturday. They have now all been weighed, wormed and sorted into groups: Simmental X boys, Angus X boys, all X girls, all pedigree girls and all pedigree boys. The girls have also had an injection to make them abort just incase one of the little boys has been a bit keen with them, as they are far to young to have a calf!
We had our very own witch on Halloween!
Miracle as always was only to happy to wear a funny hat for a photo.
We have been busy training Lenny, Lancelot and Herbie to walk on the halter. They are entered into the pedigree calf show at the East of England Smithfield Festival in Peterborough on the 16th November.
Lenny and Lancelot being typical Aberdeen Angus calves only walk when they want to, whereas Herbie seems to take it all in his stride and is only too willing to please. The new locking yoke feed fence is proving to be a real asset for catching them to put their halters on; we will let you know how we get on.
George was given this lovely painting of
Forest and Finch when they were younger for his birthday. We now have a wall in the bedroom dedicated to moo painting.
The maize has now been harvested with it all going to the local AD plant this year.
We were a month earlier harvesting the maize this year, this meaning that we have also managed to plant new crops into all the fields that were maize.
All the planting is now finished until the spring.
George and Tanya managed to grab a few days away at the beginning of October with a trip to the South of France. It was good to see that the french use both Angus and Simmental beef on their menus.
On the 25th October the day finally came when we had to say goodbye to the old girl of the herd. Marmalade had hit the grand old age of seventeen and a half and was starting to struggle a little. To make the day even worse sixteen year old Friendly and Mrs Chloe were also poorly so the hard decision was taken to put these down as well. Sleep tight old girls.
28th October 2016
Our delious beef boxes are now ready to order for delivery at the end of November.
Take a look at the info under
Guaranteed empty plate every time!
Again it has been rather crazy at Red Oak Farm
but we will post an update of everything that has been going on over the weekend.
19th September 2016
First of all we have to apologise for the lack of news updates over the last couple of months, things have been rather busy with a new building project and harvest as well as the usual ups and downs with the cattle. We will now try to update with everything that has been going on, this will be a mammoth update so please keep reading as there is some exciting news at the end.
Harvest has now almost finished with all the combinable crops safely in the shed and only the maize to harvest in the next couple of weeks. All the feed and bedding straw needed for the winter has been baled and carted to Red Oak Farm and an arable field has now been planted with grass seed and rolled, this will be used as a silage field next year.
We have had two new little boys on the farm, with Shot and Gun being born in August. They are the result of Romeo our Red Angus bull managing to jump two fences back in November last year and having his wicked way with both Buttercup and Gertrude before George found him. Buttercup was the first to calve on the eighteenth with Gertrude calving four days later. They were kept in for a week and are now back out in the fields until housing.
All the pedigree calves are growing on well, Gypsy-Rose is almost one now and was weaned from her mother a while ago. Herbie is becoming a little cracker of a bull calf as are Lenny and Lancelot the two Red Angus bull calves. Our three Red Angus heifer calves are also doing well, we have did have a slight problem with Lavender though. All Aberdeen Angus calves have to have DNA taken and sent to the society before their pedigree certificate is issued and unfortunately Lavenders did not match what we had on our records. After loosing more hair George managed to get to the bottom of the problem (a number was written down wrong when the embryo was implanted) and her pedigree certificate was issued, due to the way Angus cattle are named she is now called Melanie.
At the beginning of August we had a major blow with Emily aborting her six month old calf, after a few days of problems we managed to get her sorted out and hopefully we will have another go with her soon. We have tested her for Neospora and are happy to say she is negative, the reason for the abortion is still unexplained but with the ongoing problem of people allowing their dogs to be off leads around livestock you do have to wonder if she may have been chased by a dog! On a more positive note Cindy is looking well and due to calve in just over a months time with Wanda and Finch both due next year.
All the bulls are now resting, Brigadier and Bullseye are with the steers whilst Forest, Romeo and Rock Star are all having great fun in a field where they get lots of attention from passers-by.
The commercial herd are also growing on well although we have just very sadly lost Pierre. He died very suddenly on Sunday, being fine at 9.15 in the morning and dead by 11.30. At this moment we have no idea as to the cause, we were concerned that it may have involved him being bothered by dogs as he was in the field with the right of way thought it and all the other cattle were very agitated when George arrived but thankfully this does not now look to be the case. Hopefully the postmortem will give us some answers.
We have had a few visitors to the farm over the summer, firstly Tanya brought Flo up to meet her name sake although she did seem to think Miracle was rather sweet.
Then we had a visit from the Gouri family, Vitthal Gouri who is from Milton Keynes contacted George to arrange a visit after looking on this web-site. Mr Gouri senior who is a farmer in India was visiting so they arranged to bring him to Red Oak Farm. George also arranged to take them to our neighbours dairy farm, the Pullin family milk all their cows using state of the art robots, Mr Gouri was fascinated by this as he also milks cows back home in India.
Much to Peters delight young Henry Drake came to see him (at least that is what Peter thinks). Henry is obsessed with tractors so his father Paul arranged for him to come and visit the tractors, we think the Merlo loader was probably his favourite.
We have also hosted an event for AHDB, this was a focus on soil health with Elizabeth Stockade from Newcastle University. About twenty farmers attended to learn how to improve the health of our soil to grow better grass, Maedee also got involved enjoying the extra attention.
We have also been busy getting the next shed ready to house cattle this winter, as the numbers grow we need more winter housing. Shed number one has been used for storage until now but has had a major transformation over the summer to turn it into a cattle shed. This has involved moving steel RSJ's, installing new steel RSJ's to hold concrete panels and a feed fence, digging out a vast area of soil, installing a 1.5 metre high retaining wall, installing a cattle grid, installing water troughs and concreting a new yard area. We also concreted the lean-to building as this will now have to be used for feed storage. We are now waiting on the delivery of the concrete panels, feed fences and gates to complete the job. Hopefully it should be ready to house cattle soon.
On Sunday September 18th
Tanya celebrated a very special birthday.
Rock Star was on hand to give his
human mummy a very special card from all
George has had some more articles published about the M&S award he was runner-up in. The local paper featured another article, there was a piece in the Dawn Meats newsletter sent out to farmers and also a piece on the Dawn Meats website under their news section.
All these can be seen in our in the press section.
We are also very excited to announce that George has been
nominated for another award. The McDonald's farmer innovation award is designed to identify innovation within agriculture and showcase these examples for other farmers to learn from.
Watch this space for more info!
26th July 2016
We have been scanning again today and we have some great news for everyone that watched one of our AI demonstrations at Open Farm Sunday. Monaco, Mini Mouse, Ratty and Sunshine are all in calf to Netherton Mr Brazilian: you watched it happen live. We will update you on how they are doing at housing in November and they should calve around the 14th March next year.
Of the twenty nine young maiden heifers we have six are in calf to Popes Barclay through AI (one of these is our young pedigree Finch), twelve are in calf to Netherton Mr Brazilian through AI, one has a pedigree Red Aberdeen Angus embryo, two are not showing in calf as yet (we will rescan these in 4 weeks to check) and eight are in calf to our Red Angus bull Rome. This works out at 75% held to AI, a very good result.
23rd July 2016
It has been frantic couple of weeks at Red Oak Farm. Silaging, haymaking, a few days away at the Royal Welsh Show, the M&S awards, scanning and more silaging and things look as though they are going to get busier as the combine has started in some Winter Barley. Sorry to anyone who has been watching to find out the results of the awards, we have not had a minute since returning from Wales to update the site.
With the weather looking more settled, the decision was taken to mow all the remaining grass
on Wednesday 16th and Thursday 17th. Some of this was for silage and the other hay, all the silage was then baled and wrapped before the weekend.
The hay was then made and baled on Monday.
Last Saturday George and Tanya left for a few days in Wales, a much needed break that would end with a day at the Royal Welsh show. They stayed at a lovely place near Carmarthen called Glangwili Mansion, using the time to explore local attractions and restaurants. Again the wonderful weather played its usual games and it was foggy for most of their stay. Thanks to George and Linda for being wonderful hosts.
Last Monday was The Royal Welsh show, our first visit to the show. The day was spent watching the cattle showing with a lovely turnout of Simmentals but unfortunately not so many Angus cattle. Again well done to Tim and Katy Coles for second with their Beef Shorthorn heifer Silson Gypsy-Rose. Who knows, we may take our very own Gypsy-Rose there next year. We had some lovely hospitality at the show and with the weather being so hot this was much needed. At 4.30 in the afternoon the winners of the M&S awards were announced. George was runner-up in the innovation category being praised for the way he uses new technology in helping him to maintain the high standard of welfare in the herds. A great achievement in a record year for entries. Thanks to Donal and Dawn Meats for the nomination.
On Tuesday we harvested our whole crop silage, this is wheat that is at its milky stage. This was Ag-bagged and will be used as cattle feed over the winter.
Yesterday (Friday) we scanned some of our girls
with some great results. Three of the four first time calvers that we implanted embryos into have held, all the young cows Forest has been with are in calf as are the girls we checked that have been with Romeo.
We will be scanning the AI girls on Tuesday next week. Sorry to everyone waiting on these results from the demos at Open Farm Sunday but due to the weather holding up silage making this had to be delayed. Check the website on Wednesday for these results.
10th July 2016
With the weather still playing games with us it has been a depressing couple of weeks at Red Oak Farm;
warm weather followed by heavy thunderstorms seems to be the norm! This said we have managed to make some silage and hay in the last week. Although a month behind the grass does seem to be OK and we managed to get everything baled, wrapped and cleared from the fields before the weather turned more unsettled again.
George spent a rather soggy couple of days in Yorkshire last week. He visited the AHDB grass research day as part of the AHDB Progressive Beef Farmer Group he is a member of. This was the first meeting of the group who spent the other day at a local hotel discussing other issues related to grazing livestock and learning about the stocktake report. Although George knew some of the members of the group he has said it was great to catch up with them and meet new people.
Cindy, one of our pedigree Simmental cows
has been taken poorly, she has a condition known as wooden tongue. It is a disease that affects the soft tissue area of the mouth and tongue being caused by actinobacillosis lignieresii, part of the normal bacteria flora of the upper digestive tract. The bacteria usually invade the skin through a wound caused by eating something that scratches the inside of the mouth. She is on antibiotics and should be fine in a week or so.
Whilst out checking everyone this morning George came across this lovely little family, Mum and Dad with their seven cygnets.
They were in a field we silaged last week by a lake and the River Ouse, yet more wildlife that we are able to help with the lovely habitat that is along the river.
The Northampton Chronicle and Echo has also published an article about the M&S award. You can read this in the in the press section.
27th June 2016
Here we are at the end of June and the fields are in a worse state now than they would be in November at housing - rain rain and more rain.
Our three little pigs (Posy, Maedee and Marmite) are now standing in mud to eat their creep as are all the other calves. We still have not completed our first cut silage or made any hay, what has happened to summer?
Although the weather is not being kind to them at the moment, this year's calves are all growing
As you can see by this photo Thorn is turning into a little cracker, Hazel is ever so proud of him.
Brigadier is still out having fun with his girls as are
Rock Star, Romeo and Forest. Bullseye still thinks he is the daddy to most of the calves and continues to follow them everywhere. If all goes to plan we shall be keeping Forest as we shall need another stock bull for next year. He is only related to a few of the pedigree cattle so it does seem a little silly to sell him only to then have to look for another bull in the new year.
We have had two articles published about us in the last couple of weeks.
Firstly there has been an article published in Argentina about our Embryo transfer program, you can view this in our in the press section. We will add a better copy of this when we have one and also get it translated.
George has also been featured in the local paper. The article is all about the M&S Farming for the Future award, this again can be viewed in our
in the press section. This came as a total shock to us as we had no idea that the paper was running it. George started getting messages and wondered what was going on when the article came out on the Buckingham Advertiser's website, then again when the paper came out on Friday.
It's getting a little exciting at the moment.
20th June 2016
Happy first day of summer!
Lot's of very unhappy cattle today as it is pouring down again, where has all the sunshine gone?
This is the view from our workshop this morning, at least the nine fattening cattle that are still in the shed are happy.
It has been a busy 12 days since the last post with all the embryo work now finished and all our cattle turned out to grass except for the nine that are almost ready for slaughter.
We have also had the extra work that was caused by the robbery to contend with (repairing the damaged caused, dealing with all the paperwork for the insurance and trying to sort out the tools stolen).
George & James managed to spend the day at the Royal Three Counties show. As we are going to need more space for housing cattle this next winter they were busy looking at locking feed barriers, these will help us to catch the animals in this shed without the need to move them to the handling area; ideal for halter training etc.
They also spent a lot of time watch the Simmental cattle showing, well done to all the exhibitors on such a wonderful turnout. All being well we will be showing some of our Simmentals and Red Angus cattle there next year. Well done also to Tim and Katy Coles (Silson Beef Shorthorns) on their second place with their heifer.
This morning we received this lovely
letter from Walking with the Wounded
to thank us for raising some money for them at our Open Farm Sunday event.
All we can say is it was our pleasure and hopefully we will do it again in the future, you guys are a charity we will continue to support.
Keep up the good work.
8th June 2016
We are sorry that it is now Wednesday evening and we are only just updating the website. As will become apparent at the end of this blog, we have been busy dealing with a very sad event that happened over Monday evening / Tuesday Morning.
Open Farm Sunday has now been and gone. George was busy all week getting ready as well as doing all the other day to day jobs around the farm. He was even interviewed by BBC radio Northampton on Friday (listen to the interview in our in the press section). It was a little frantic on the Sunday morning trying to get everything ready due to a disaster with a photo movie we had been working on (this will be put on the website in due course). In the end 11 o'clock came around too quickly and to be fair we were not ready, some of the displays we had planned were not completed but this did not seem to matter.
People started to arrive just before 11, we then had a steady flow of people right up until 4 when we stopped. The AI demos were very popular with many people taking the info cards so they can hopefully follow the animal they watch through to calving next March (all depends on the scanning results).
The look on some of the children's faces was priceless when they got to climb aboard some of the tractors that we had on display; the bouncy castle was always busy. People loved learning all about the birds of prey and also managed to learn a little history about why we named the farm Red Oak.
The cattle we had in the pens were all brilliant and were only too happy to have plenty of strokes with many of them taking feed direct from peoples hands.
George feeding Maedee her bucket of milk was a real crowd pleaser with some of the children going into the pen to fuss her. Miracle also came over to say hello to anyone she could.
Our area of small local business was well supported as was the food van and ice cream van. Many people went out to the picnic area, this was set up on the hill over looking the River Ouse valley.
The cows in the fields seem to also enjoy the extra attention this got them. People also went for other walks around the fields.
Moo-Maiche was really good: she never made a mess and was great at showing people all about the technology George uses. She had our Moocall attached to her tail and gave many calving demos using our calving aid although it was a little difficult to use the thermal imaging camera on her as she did not seem to show any hotspots!
Our vet and feed rep were on hand to explain how they help at Red Oak Farm as was the fabricator of all our steel doors and barriers. George spent most of the day in this area explaining to people what we do and all about the different breeding programs we run. The Red Angus calves from Argentina were in pens to show people and George also explained all about a cow's vision using our specially made cow glasses.
We had a total of around 420 people visit us with
£285.88 being raised for our charity Walking with the Wounded. They also had a representative with us for the day.
We also had a lovely lady from Leaf, the national organisers of Open Farm Sunday pay us a surprise visit for the afternoon.
We had found out that we were going to have a
very special visitor on the day. A lovely little friend
of many of the cows at Red Oak Farm called Isla was to turn one year old on Sunday so George's mum made a very special birthday cake to look like Marmite, one of our young calves.
Everyone involved in the day seemed to enjoy themselves and we have received some lovely message over the last few days:
"Was an amazing day! Very impressed by how smoothly it all ran and amazed by all the displays and demos.
Isla had a fantastic birthday with all the 'moooooo's' and enjoyed a yummy piece of cake for her tea".
"We came to visit and the children had a great time, thank you. So nice to see a real farm set up and be able to ask questions. Too many farms these days are trying to be fayres and lose the focus - your day was much better for keeping it simple".
This is what Val from Leaf had to say;
" It was really nice to meet you yesterday at your Open Farm Sunday event - what a fantastic day! It was great to hear all about the work that you are doing at Red Oak and to meet the people involved. You should be so proud of everything that you have achieved so far and your passion for your animals and the breeding program was self-evident!
I know that your visitors will have gone away touched by your enthusiasm and the way that you all explained everything so clearly. I will also follow 'my' calf! What a great idea to get people to follow the progress from insemination to birth.
Please also thank Jackie for taking the time to join me on my walk and for sharing her knowledge of the village and farm with me".
"Thanks for a great day out! We all had a great day. Sorry to hear what happened that night, lets hope they catch the scumbags".
(All will become clear in a minute).
Now some thank you's from George;
Tanya' parents Steve and Tina; especially Steve for all the help in the week before and for cooking the BBQ for everyone after, and George's Mum Mary. Gareth from Towcester Vets, Alan from Heygates and Hal from TJ Agriculture. The Argentine cowboy Ricky Truffer and Kevin for looking after the machinery. Alec, Henry, Gussie and Kitty Howard for being superstars. Our four local businesses for putting on a small shopping area, our catering van and ice cream van. Polly from WWTW charity and Hal and Gareth's wives for helping. Stuart Harlow and Hands on Hawking for their displays and the lovely birds, everyone loved them. The man behind the camera, Mark Powis of The Powis of Photography for all the lovely photos (rare photo of the man left).
Jeremy and John Turney of Turney Fieldforce for the loan of the blue tractor, the kids loved it big and small! All the Red Oak Team; Jackie, Roger, Tanya, James, Peter the Puppy and all the moo's.
And the biggest thank you of all to all the people who came, I hope you enjoyed yourselves.
We will put all the photos we have from Sunday in a photo section in Open Farm Sunday, if you have any photos we could use then please email them to us.
Now for some sad news; sometime over Monday evening / Tuesday morning we were broken into at the farm. Our white Ford Ranger pickup reg no: YC03 AFU was stolen along with all the workshop tools. They also managed to smash our key safe open and steal all the farm tractor keys etc, causing us a real headache in having to get replacements and change locks. Luckily we have immobilisers on most machines now so although they did get into our loader they could not start it. Although we can not be sure, we think this may explain some of the strange goings on over the last few weeks. Only on Monday the same very large white Mercedes Sprinter van reg no: N2 KYC that George saw a week ago trying to get into a field was seen near the farm. The two occupants fit the description of those seen again over the last few weeks around the village and fields, they are described as two average build males in their mid twenties normally wearing baseball caps. They may have been at the event on Sunday so if anyone thinks they saw anything suspicious could they let us know please.
This does unfortunately put any future events at Red Oak Farm in doubt. Although we think they have been watching us for a while now, opening the farm on Sunday may have given them the chance to have a good look around. Although I do agree with what Jackie has said "don't let them beat us" and I do think it is a big shame that a couple of mindless idiots can spoil it for everyone else, we do have to think about our business and more importantly the safety of the livestock. We are not saying we will not do it again as it was lovely for us watching children interact with the cattle and answer all the questions we were asked but we will have to really think about it. Watch this space!
Now off to talk to a security firm about CCTV and alarm systems.
30th May 2016
It was a week of ups and downs last week. We have been busy with more artificial inseminations,
all four bulls are busy working with the young Forest finally working out which end it goes, and the last of the heifers have started their synchronisation program with four of these being got ready for the demonstrations on Open Farm Sunday. One of the heifers we will be using is Rock Star's sister
Mini-Mouse (photo left).
On a sadder note we lost one of our old girls on Friday.
She had a fall sometime last summer which damaged her hip but with lots of TLC by George she has been not too bad, if a little slow since. She had a lovely heifer calf back in January and has done a great job in looking after her (her calf is Posy, the free range one). On Thursday evening she seemed a little slower than normal and by Friday morning she was struggling to walk and looked in pain. George made the tough dession to have her put down, never an easy one but with this old girl it was the only choice we had. Posy is in the field with Meadee, although a little upset for a few days she is now fine and being looked after by all the others in that field.
Open Farm Sunday is nearly upon us
(Sunday 5th June) and we have now silaged the fields ready for the car parks and mowed the grass around the farm buildings.
Lots more to do and arrange but we will be ready
for what promises to be a very informative day on the farm.
More info here towards the end of the week
and photos of the event next week; make sure you are in them by coming on Sunday!
23rd May 2016
It has been another busy week at Red Oak Farm, we have been artificially inseminating more heifers and starting the synchronisation program on another five ready to AI this week. We have had our vet scan the fourteen animals sidelined for our embryo transfer program to check they are all OK and started their synchronisation program. We have cleaned more of the empty shed out and been busy steam cleaning them ready for Open Farm Sunday and we have had some very special visitors to the memorial tree and plaque.
Brigadier, our rather large pedigree Simmental bull has been found in the field next door to his ladies on two mornings over the last week. We know our cows are clever but we do find it hard to imagine that they can undo the combination padlock on the gate.
George changed the number on the first morning it happened so we can only assume that whoever is doing this is actually going to the trouble of removing the gate from its hinges and letting only Brigadier through, as all the other cows are desperate to get into this field and have been for weeks. They are then rehanging the gate (would probably need two people) and wedging it shut. Not only could this harm our breeding program if Brigadier is not with his ladies it could also cause him to try and jump the fence to get back in the right field and as he weighs around 1.3 tonnes he may hurt himself. Brigadier is a lovely quiet bull but as we have alway been told from a very young age "never trust a bull", he could turn on whoever is doing this at anytime and hurt them. We will catch whoever is stupid enough to think that if they keep moving him we will stop grazing the fields that have rights of ways running through them, and when we do the police will now be involved as we are getting very concerned about the safety of our lovely cattle. What next?
Cindy, one of our lovely pedigree Simmentals decided to have a mud pack on her face this week. We are not sure what she had been up to but she did look rather silly.
Open Farm Sunday is getting closer and we are still busy making plans and getting everything ready for the big day.
Our little welcoming committee got the wrong Sunday to pose by the banner as you can see by the photo.
If you remember George was nominated for a
Marks & Spencers farming award a while ago and we are pleased to announce that he has made it to the last two,
Marks & Spencers now want to send a photographer to
take some photos of George with some of the cattle.
The England and Wales winner will be announced
at the Royal Welsh show in July.
19th May 2016
We have had some surprise visitors today.
It is 73 years ago today that Wellington Bomber HZ437 crashed on this site killing all five crew members. The nephews of the pilot
Sgt SR Barnes - RAFVR paid a visit to the memorial Red Oak tree and plaque today. Whilst here they also had a look at some of the cattle, with the usual suspects coming to say hello - Finch, Bo and Nellie of course.
18th May 2016
small pop-up with us on the day and we have added information in case of bad weather.
Check the Open Farm Sunday page for all info.
16th May 2016
Another week goes by and the cows and calves are all loving the sunshine, Emily our lovely pedigree Simmental (picture right) is very content laying in the buttercup covered meadows by the River Ouse.
Miracle is still looking after Maedee who still has a bucket of milk once a day. Maedee has learnt to come to the whistle now and loves to play with Peter. Miracle decided the other day that she had some show qualities about her and stood as a show animal would for a photo; I wonder what the judges at the shows would make of her?
As most of the cattle are now out we have started to clean the sheds out.
All of our sheds are steam cleaned throughout,
this helping to kill any bugs that maybe living in them. As you can see from the photo (right)
the bull pens and quarantine pens have already been washed down.
All the young calves are growing on well and becoming rather cheeky, the Red Angus calves are probably the worst. Our five pedigree Red Angus calves will all be available to see on Open Farm Sunday. Heygates animal feeds have also confirmed that they will be coming to help us on the day.
We have also managed to borrow a model of a cow; our cows are quiet but I think they may get fed up standing in one spot all day. We plan to use this to demonstrate how some of the aids we use operate. Anyone who watched My Farming Life on television recently may have seen the Irvine family calve a cow using a calving aid, we will show people how these assist us in calving cows without hurting the cow or calf. We will also have our Moocall device on display and show people how we use a thermal imagining camera to help us treat animals with hip and feet problems.
George is still busy with our artificial insemination program - five heifers are due to be inseminated this week with others due to start their synchronisation program. He did manage to catch one heifer bulling naturally the other day so she was served using semen from Netherton Mr Brazilian (picture right). All the heifers left to serve will also use this bull.
As we move closer to Open Farm Sunday (just under three weeks away) we should have more info on what is going on and who is coming. The on-site catering van is all book and we are awaiting conformation on the ice cream van and trade stands. All being well we should be able to announce more on Thursday so we will update the site then.
8th May 2016
Sunshine and more sunshine!
Lot's of happy moo's this week as the sun has kept on shinning. We now have everyone out to grass except for the fattening steers, the animals we are implanting embryos into and the bulling heifers that we are using in our artificial insemination program.
The artificial insemination program is now well under way for this year with seven heifers already served and more ready to start their synchronisation program this week. These animals all receive a special injection 10 days after service to help hold the embryo, they will then be turned out to Romeo ready for serving if they have failed the AI process.
Open Farm Sunday advertising is now stepping up a gear. The A4 posters are starting to appear around the area, the A6 cards are now ready to go out to local businesses for people to pick up and the banner to put at the top of the farm drive on the A422 will be ready tomorrow.
Towcester vets (who we use for our cattle) will be on hand on the day as will be local agricultural supply company Cox & Robinson, they will both be helping us in showing you what goes on in raising and caring for our lovely cattle. We should also be able to confirm other local companies that are going to help by next weekend.
We will have local asparagus on sale, this is grown by our neighbours Rupert & Clare Smith and the bouncy castle is booked for all the kids.
We are planning to have an area dedicated to how and why cattle behave like they do, this will focus on the animals sight and to help us show this we will be using some very special glasses that make you see like a cow would. George first saw these glasses on a cattle handling seminar he attended, we then hosted another handling event at Red Oak Farm and again these glasses were used. George has spoken to cattle behaviour expert Miriam Parker, MBE who designed the glasses and she has given us the OK to use them. Hopefully this demonstration will help people understand
the importance of dog control on rights of way and what to do if you do feel threatened.
By next week's update we should have a lot more info on the day and we will update the site sooner if we need to so keep watching this space.
1st May 2016
What a bizarre week!
Wind, more rain, snow, hail and at last sunshine, that has been the weather over the last week of April. It was so cold at the beginning of the week that Miracle made herself a straw duvet.
Most of this week has been spent installing a couple of new fences around the new houses being built on the edge of one of the grass fields and mending old fences. Most of the old fence repairs are down to old age but yet again we have come across a section of fencing that has been taken down to gain access to a field that does not have any right of way.
We will catch the culprits one day!
We have also started to synchronise
some of our young heifers ready for artificial insemination, we will be using semen from Popes Barclay (pictured right). The whole synchronise process is now carried out by George. He is planning to do a few every week, the last of the young heifer being inseminated in a demonstration on Open Farm Sunday.
As the weather seems to have finally made a small improvement we have turned some cattle out this morning. We have turned out Brigadier's group as these are the oldest calves, as well as all our animals that are due to calve in the Autumn. We have also sorted all the other cattle into their bulling groups and finally put them with their bulls: Rock Star, Romeo and Forest.
We will turn more cattle out over the next week and put the promised videos of events on this site.
We have now started to
advertise Open Farm Sunday locally
with posters and flyers and will look to get more out over the next week.
Hopefully by this time next week we can also confirm more about what we will be doing on the day - watch this space!
25th April 2016
I am pleased to say that Miracle is still smiling and so is our lovely Finch (picture left) after our annual TB test.
As always it was a very stressful couple of
We also carried out some other vet jobs on Thursday. As the vet is on farm due to the TB testing it is always a good idea to make use of them for other jobs at the same time if you can.
As you can see from the picture, Forest had his nose ring fitted. Although this may look a little gruesome I can assure everyone that it looks worse than it is. He was given an anaesthetic to numb the area before the ring was fitted, and was straight back to his food afterwards. We fit rings into bulls noses so that we can handle them safely but it does also act as a good indicator when they are in the fields. Forest will be running with some young cows over the next couple of months and then he will be sold so if anyone is looking for a nice, quiet pedigree Simmental bull then please get in touch.
We also carried out some scanning with some pleasing results. All but one of the heifers we have bulled for autumn calving are in calf, our vet thinks that two of these are possibly in calf to the Angus embryos we implanted back in February and one to AI. Although we had already scanned the embryo recipients and thought they had all failed, on this scanning the little calves looked older than the date our two young bulls served them on. We will find out for sure in November when they are born.
We also had a pleasant surprise when scanning Gertrude: she was supposed to have a Red Angus calf back in March but didn't so we presumed she had aborted. We asked the vet to check her before we put her with the bull in case of any problems inside. The look on Georges face was priceless when the vet told him there was a live five month old calf inside her! After a few moments trying to work this out all we can come up with is that she did indeed abort the Red Angus calf and must have also had a bit of fun with Romeo when he jumped the fence in November. She is now due to calf in August along with Buttercup.
Our suspicions about Delilah were also correct and she has aborted her calf at some point during the gestation period. This can happen and is normally caused by either disease or dog worrying. We are constantly monitoring the health status of our cows but seem to have little control over the people who walk their dogs over the many rights of way that cross the grass fields the cows graze for seven months of the year. Dog mess left in the fields can cause a disease called Neospora, this can then cause abortion in cattle. Dog worrying is becoming more of a threat with some horrendous cases around the country over the last few months, this is a criminal offence and we are also entitled to shoot any dogs seen to be worrying the cattle. Although this would be a very difficult thing to have to do as we are all dog lovers, we do also have to protect our investments (cattle can cost tens of thousands of pounds to buy). We have now doubled-fenced part of the bridleway so the cattle cannot get on it and the users of the bridleway cannot leave it; this should give us another safe field.
Quite a few of the cows are now getting very restless as the weather starts to improve.
They know that the time for them to
get free is near and seem to think that if they make enough noise George will let them out.
Weather permitting some will get their wish some time in the next week, photos and perhaps a video in the next instalment of
17th April 2016
Here is our first weekly update, now calving is over we will do one of these every weekend to keep everyone up to date with all that is happening. We will still post any exciting news as it happens.
It was bull prodigy Rock Star's second birthday yesterday, he had the customary special bucket of food that he shared with his best mate Romeo. He also had lots of cuddles as shown by this picture.
Floppy, the little calf that was born partially paralysed is on the mend.
George has spent lots of time nursing, feeding and helping him to stand since he was born resulting in him now being able to stand, walk and feed himself.
He is a rather lovely little chap being a little smaller than
Peter the Labrador.
The next week will be a stressful one as our annual TB test is tomorrow and Thursday.
Although we have never had TB on the farm there is always the worry that we could go down with it. Lets hope we are all still smiling on Thursday!
We would normally turn most of the cattle out
after our TB test, but due to the fields still being very spongy under foot because of all the rain we keep having this looks unlikely to happen this year. We will turnout as soon as conditions allow.
15th April 2016
It is catch up day in the office today and as it looks like we have finished calving for a while we thought we would update everyone on how calving has gone, what is happening in the future and other info.
Although this is a rather long news article please read on for some exciting news at the end.
Firstly catch up day in the office does not mean we are behind with the paperwork, all the day to day office work is just that and carried out day to day. Here at Red Oak Farm we are different in the fact that as well as our animals having all the legal paperwork (passports and pedigree certificates if they are pedigree animals) any breeding animal also has its own health document. This contains all the relevant info over the course of the animal's life such as all the info from its passport and pedigree certificate, all weighing records, calving records, bulling records, foot trimming records, medical history and any treatment they may have had and much more useful data. There is also a photo of the animal and any photos that we have taken with our thermal imaging camera. This helps us to detect the problem if the animal goes lame or has hip problems in the future. As we carried out our annual foot trimming yesterday and weighed the cows all this info needs entering onto the system. It may seem like a lot of work but my does it help in managing the herds. Only yesterday this was proven in the fact that we have more animals than ever in the breeding herd but trimmed less feet than we did last year.
With calving looking like it is over for a few months (Delilah in theory should still calve but it does look very unlikely) we can now sum up how we have got on. It has been quite a rollercoaster three months, with both joy and sadness along the way. We have had the arrival of the first pedigree Red Aberdeen Angus calves as a result of the embryos we imported from Argentina, had another lovely pedigree Simmental calf, this one being the first pedigree sired by Brigadier and have a lovely bunch of
commercial X calves sired by Brigadier,
Rock Star, Romeo and Mr Brazilian by AI.
It has been a little chaotic and George has seriously lacked sleep at times
but when you have moments like this photo of
Ribbon giving George a kiss it makes it all
worthwhile. Our Moocall device has paid off, I would even go as far as saying it saved the life of one of the pedigree Red Aberdeen Angus calves due to calving complications. We have however noticed that there is a very fine line in getting the device either too tight or too loose on the tail; too loose and it falls off, too tight and it can damage the tail as we have found out with poor little Lumina. I am looking into sorting this problem for next year and have an idea how this can be done.
We have also lost a few animals which does make the job hard; we have a bond with all of our animals and do find it very emotionally draining when we loose them. This calving period we started badly with Blodge having a stillborn calf on day one. We then lost Bruno due to him catching pneumonia. This was a hard one as George had nursed him from birth due to his mum being unwell and then he died in George's lap. A few days after this we had to have his mum put down as well as she was not getting any better and in pain. Then we lost one of our older girls who had a problem when she started to calve meaning we had to carryout an emergency caesarean and put her to sleep. We did end up with Maedee who is now a rather cheeky little calf who lives with Auntie Miracle,. As you can see by the photo above she is a very pretty calf and will be around for awhile.
Then only last week we lost one of our young calves due to bloat.
So to the figures. After scanning last year we had 36 in calf to Brigadier, 9 in calf to a very young Rock Star, 9 in calf by AI to Mr Brazilian 12 in calf to a very young Romeo, 7 in calf though embryo transfer (Red Angus) and 1 pedigree Simmental to Brigadier. 74 in total.
After calving we have:
33 live calves (one set of twins)
1 pedigree Simmental
1 still born calf
2 calves have also died after birth.
9 live calves
9 live calves
12 live calves
Unfortunately two of the heifers carrying the Red Angus embryos also aborted at some point meaning we only had five pedigree Red Aberdeen Angus calves. Of all the calves born we have 27 heifers and 40 bulls that are alive and have lost 1 bull calf (Bruno) and 2 heifer calves (one stillborn and the one to bloat).
We have started to serve the cows ready for calving next year. Brigadier is already working, with Rock Star and Romeo due to start any day.
We shall also be using young Forest this year as well as artificial insemination.
The AI process has been made a lot easier for this year because as well as George now being able to carryout the inseminations himself he has also agreed with our vets that he can also carryout the whole synchronisation process. This now means we can AI the heifers in smaller numbers.
We did look at using some technology called pin point collars this year; you put them on the animals' neck and they then monitor them and let you know when they are ready for serving. We have decided that due to the number of young heifers this year we are going to shelve these until next year, George instead plans to use a device you put on the back of the cow just in front of the tail along with synchronisation.
Our handling system has just had a face lift.
We have installed the weighing box permanently on the wall - this will make it easier to run the cattle though the crush and mean a weight is always on hand should we need it.
We have also installed a sink, hot water heater, a small storage cupboard and a hosepipe on the wall. This will make life a lot easier in the future when we are carrying out jobs with the cattle.
As we have now finished calving we will update the website every weekend or when we have some other exciting news to share. Keep checking the website as we have all sorts of things going on over the next few months.
As well as all the day to day running of the herds George has offered to host a talk and barbecue at the farm in May for local villagers. The idea of this is to explain to local residents what we have going on as the herds grow: the need for farm buildings, the importance of dog control whilst on the rights of way for the safety of the cattle and walkers, and give them a chance to look around the farm and meet some of the cattle. He is planning to charge a small amount for this with any money raised going to the Walking with the Wounded charity for whom we are also raising money for on Open Farm Sunday.
Open Farm Sunday on the 5th June plans are coming together. All info will be posted here and on Facebook - Red Oak Farm
And finally for now,
George has been nominated for a
Marks & Spencers farming award. He had a phone call the other day from someone we supply our cattle to saying they were nominating him for the award. We do not know anymore at the moment, we are just waiting to see what will happen next. He may not go any further in the process but it is great that he has been nominated in the first place. We will keep the website updated if we hear any more.
14th April 2016
That's all folks!
We have had this little bull calf called Floppy born late last night. Unfortunately it looks like he may have hit the ground at calving a little hard and damaged some nerves meaning he can not stand up and is all floppy. We have had one of our vets take a look at him and she seems to think that with plenty of TLC he should recover - here we go again with feeding at all hours.
We think this maybe the last calf from our spring calving herd as the other cow that was scanned in calf is not showing any signs of calving anytime soon and should be by now, we will confirm this next week when our vet will scan her to be sure.
We have been very busy today with our cattle having their annual pedicure, Nigel Williams of Midland Cattle Services has been here all day with his special foot trimming crush and tools to carryout the procedure for us. Below are some photos of some of the animals being trimmed, as you can see Brigadier is a bit of a tight fit in the crush.
12th April 2016
And there were two!
We have had another calf, Susan had this
lovely bull calf at around 7.30 last night.
He is a Rock Star sired calf and means we
have now had all the Rock Star babies that were due to calve (100% in calf and 100% born alive), good boy Rock Star!
This means we only have two left to calve.
10th April 2016
Here is a lovely picture taken today
of old girl Marmalade with her
one week old calf Marmite.
8th April 2016
We are still waiting for the last few to calve so today's photos are of
the nine calves sired by Netherton Mr Brazilian by artificial insemination, the mothers are all our
own home bred Simmental X animals.
7th April 2016
It's a sad here at Red Oak Farm today!
We have lost 600797, a lovely little heifer calf born on the 24th February.
She started to show signs of being poorly this morning and was treated by both George and one of our vets but unfortunately she died just after lunchtime. It looks like it was due to complication with the rumen not working properly (she was at the age when the rumen should start to work) meaning she kept filling up with gas instead of discharging it.
6th April 2016
Today's photos are of our five pedigree Red Aberdeen Angus calves.
5th April 2016
Still waiting for the last few to calve
so here is a lovely picture taken
today of one of our pedigree Simmentals,
Tilbrook Cindy with her 6 month old
calf Red Oak Gypsy-Rose just visible
4th April 2016
And off we go again!
We have put Brigadier into a pen of cows
today to start getting them in calf ready for next
year. We hope to have all of our bulls with their ladies by the end of the week. It looks like Maggie is probably going to be the first to calve in mid-January 2017!
Lily had this lovely little bull calf called Storm
last night at around 9 o'clock.
It was not a normal calving as Storm was coming backwards, meaning Lily had to be helped to calve. It also took a while to get him breathing properly due to him being backwards and full of gunk.
3rd April 2016
Two new births this morning!
600636, a first time calving three year old
heifer had a Romeo sired bull calf in the
Also our old girl Marmalade
had another bull calf at around 8.30
this morning. Marmalade is now
17 years old and unfortunately it looks like
this will be her last calf. On a the plus side
she has not chased us as yet (normally she becomes a little wild when she has just given birth).
1st April 2016
We have just put this sign up in all our
It should now mean we can get a good nights
sleep without the need to be calving cows!
Another of our lovely two year old heifers
calved yesterday afternoon.
Petra, who is Patch's daughter had a lovely
little Romeo sired bull calf called
31st March 2016
Still no new births, so as promised here are some
photos taken today of some of the youngsters as
they grow up.
First is this picture of our young pedigree bull
Forest who thought he would try and look like a Highland bull this morning by covering his head in straw to make a fringe.
Emily, our lovely pedigree Simmental
was not going to miss out on a photo
opportunity either this morning. Whilst we were having our photo shoot with the youngsters she followed us around the pen insisting that she was included until she too had her photo taken.
Below is a collection of photos taken today of the
first batch of calves born, most of them are all over two months old now and growing bigger day by day.
Ribbon is still very naughty loving to run up behind you and bunt you!
30th March 2016
We still have seven left to calve!
As we have no new births to share with you we thought it would be a good idea to post some pictures over the next few days of some calves as they grow up.
Our first picture is of Maedee, our hand reared calf who is being looked after by Auntie Miracle. She has taught her all sorts of her naughty tricks with Maedee loving to cuddle up to Miracle at night.
27th March 2016
We have now found out how Easter Eggs are made!
Posy went walk about again today, she is seen here with our yearling steers.
We think she may have been on her very own
Easter egg hunt!