Hooray at last some warmer weather, although I will probably have jinxed this by the time this article is published. We have had some picturesque sunrises and sunsets over the past few weeks.
I read with interest an article about trials of a cattle vaccine and a skin test called DIVA (Detecting Infected among Vaccinated Animals) for TB. A number of cows across the country have been selected for the trials. It is hoped that the combination of a cattle BCG vaccine and a skin test that can differentiate between vaccinated and infected cattle could mark the beginning of the end of the TB tests as we know it.
Obviously, the trial is in its initial stages, but they have high hopes for the future. Field trials are required to assess the vaccine’s safety and performance. It has been described by the APHA (Animal and Plant Health Agency) as “a significant milestone”. If these second stage trials are successful, we will be so much closer to vaccinating cattle against the disease.
Many years of research have gone into producing this vaccine and skin test so that the ministry can decipher if cattle have been vaccinated or carry TB. The ministry, along with farm vets, have been working hard to ensure the trial follows all the relevant guidelines and that all the cows fit the criteria. A huge amount of time, effort and energy have gone into these trials from all concerned. Fingers crossed for exciting times ahead and possibly an end to TB testing as we know it.
Half term has been and gone. Why do the days seem to pass so quickly? So much to do and so little time before they are all back at school again. Roll on the summer holidays.
The eventing season has started and we are now gearing up for our first event of the season. Fingers crossed that the horses all stay fit and well. The goats have started to kid and the ewes will be following on shortly.
Having recently taken eight British Blue cross calves to market we realised that the calf market seems to have dropped out of bed. They were practically given away. Is this a sign of times to come? The prime beef industry seems to be on fire at the moment, but this doesn’t appear to be reflected in the price of calves.
A few weeks ago at Ashford market, records were being broken, with prime cattle from W Alexander selling at 311p (£1,925). Cull cattle also seemed to sell at a good price, although noticeably fewer dairy culls are coming through. I have always struggled to understand the calf market. One week calves sell at £250 each and similar calves sell two weeks later for £20. There wouldn’t appear to be any rhyme or reason to it.
The ground has been drying nicely for a few days and what a pleasure it has been to have some sunshine; the evenings are drawing out and daylight hours are getting longer. It seems to have been a never-ending winter. The wind, rain and freezing temperatures (at times) have all contributed to making it rather hideous.
Fingers crossed that is all behind us now. Fertiliser is going on and, all being well, the grass will continue to grow at the rate it has been. If the weather plays the game, silaging will start by the end of April. The cows are milking as well as they have ever milked, just as the milk price starts to drop.
Until next time stay safe.