Archive for the ‘animal welfare’ Category

Funny cow?

1 April, 2011

Happy cow : )

See her picture…

Farming Today – food from cloned animals

9 December, 2010

BBC Radio 4 (listen again)

Animal welfare groups say they’re appalled that meat and milk from the offspring of cloned animals can be sold in shops without being labelled as such. The Food Standards Agency board says there are no health risk to humans but animal welfare groups say consumers will be unknowingly supporting cloning which they say is cruel and causes suffering to animals.

The RSPCA tell Anna about their planned emergency rescue of 4000 sheep stranded on the moorlands of Northumberland – made inaccessible in waist-deep snow – without access to food.

Farming Notes 14 Nov 2010

14 November, 2010

The cold weather has now set in and the autumn/winter livestock routines are well under way. This places quite a bit more burden on weekends so the need to get the labour profile right becomes paramount.

The weather generally has been fairly kind with a nice spread of rain/sunshine and cold and mild weather so crops look well and the forage is still of a good quality for the sheep still outside. The particularly wet and cold days when they occur do hold the stock back and the straw usage in the sheds (Roundhouse in particular) increases significantly.


All drilling completed in reasonable conditions and the crops are now fully emerged and looking very well.
No real slug or weed problems have emerged thus far, although weed pressure at this time is always mild and merely an indication of what may materialise at a later date.

Feed and milling wheat sales have gone very well, with little in the barn. The human consumption oats, barley and rye are all scheduled to start in February.


All ewes have been sorted through and given a prep up. These are now split into various groups, according to breeding requirement, and are on their respective tupping blocks. In doing this we’re are aiming to increase their metabolic rate by giving them much better pasture than they’ve had in the last couple of months since weaning (this keeps them fit and helps prevent mastitis).

With the better pasture comes and increase in body condition (vital to store fat for winter, maintain pregnancy and assist milk yield at lambing) and a corresponding increase in metabolism. This metabolic increase produces a ‘flush’ of eggs rather than one and thus a higher percentage of twins is achieved.

We have to closely match the availability of forage to the ewes body condition so that she does not go without but also doesn’t get too fat. We have to also ensure there is enough grass to see her through the first month after tupping.

The rams have also been gone through as they will be required to do their years ‘work’ over six weeks commencing 25th November to give a lambing period of six weeks commencing approximately 18th April.

Beef cattle:

The cattle are now all inside as the spring calving cows now come in for winter to protect the pasture and help the calves to keep growing well. The performance of all the young stock since changing the grazing regime and using better forage converting breeds appears to have improved immeasurably. Autumn calving has started in earnest with circa 25 cows now calved.

Chris Blunt
Farm Manager

Hampshire Sheep Group

12 November, 2010

Hampshire Sheep Group kindly invited Chris Blunt (Farm Manager) and Jason Ball (Mgr for Biodiversity and Alternative Energy) to be guest speakers at their event last night.

Chris proudly announced that we have not had to treat any sheep for worms this year. The key is clean grazing systems, which rotate between sheep and cattle and careful management of the grass resource. Chris praised the skills and dedication of our stockmen Nick and Matt. 

Sheepdrove has won the Best Large Sheep Flock award at the Royal Berkshire Show for a few years running now. 

The breeds at Sheepdrove include a wide range, the main ewes being Shetland (of various colour types), and the ram breeds include Texel, Blue Texel (excellent for wool), Lleyn, Herdwick and Beltex. Chris explained the system we use and some of the ideas for future breeding aims – such as conformation, fleece shape and wool quality.

Jason talked about some of the achievements of Sheepdrove’s nature conservation work, such as the establishment of unique wetland habitats, 70 hectares of chalk downland restoration, the huge amount of Environmental Stewardship, attracting Small Blue butterfly, and discovering in 2010 that we have a nationally important diversity of arable wildflowers.

Our thanks to Brian, the chairman of Hampshire Sheep Group, for inviting us.

Feeding the animals…

20 October, 2010

Yesterday we attended the launch of the Soil Association’s report – ‘Feeding the Animals that Feed Us’. They produced an excellent, concise piece of work on a very big topic. It is, essentially, the invisible impact of the eggs, dairy and meat that you eat.

Others like Yeo Valley, Hi Peak Feeds and Elisabeth Winkler (food writer) think this is important. Why should you care? Things such as rainforest destruction or sneaking in GM food through the back door (through the barn door!?) can be slowed or accelerated by what YOU buy. This is why we’re grass fans.

Think PIG

7 October, 2010

What do the different labels on pork products mean for pigs?

The RSPCA has a new Facebook word game (at which incorporates facts about pigs and pig welfare, and encourages people to  join the campaign at Facebook –

Of course, organic certification – particularly those of the Soil Association – are regarded as having the ‘gold standard’ when it comes to happy pigs. So the easiest label choice is Soil Association ORGANIC pork, gammon and bacon!

FOOD Inc – ten tips

14 September, 2010

Help to push today’s industrialised food systems into healthier habits. Ultimately a healthy diet for us depends on a healthy food system and a healthy planet!

Here are the Top Ten tips from the FOOD Inc movie.

Click on the postcard to enlarge. Read more…

Farming notes 12 Aug 2010

12 August, 2010

A Herdwick ram shakes off the rain

The weather continues to be most frustrating – enough drizzle to hold up hay making and slow the ripening of the crops but no way near enough to do much good for grass growth.

Summer activities in full swing which places a great demand on my, Andrews and Will’s time, therefore in Nick’s absence (on honeymoon!) Matt is our sole full time livestock person (other than big jobs where I get involved – obviously we try to work these into wet days even though it’s not so comfortable then!).


Matt has been doing a fantastic job and is very keen to take responsibility for the stock and contribute to management discussions where a lot of his ideas are ideals shared by Sheepdrove (minimal input systems, production from forage, cutting housing costs and keeping stock out to grass for longer to name but a few) – most encouraging.

New season lamb continues to be of excellent quality. Also, rather than chasing for numbers to keep coming forward, we’re having to rotate each group we pick from just to stop them from getting too big! Again, further proof even in a dry year that our new extensive system works and we’re allowing the stock to achieve their potential, rather than stunting their development through lack of adequate food.

We’ve now got most of the bulls running together so that we don’t end up with housing issues at a later date. More checking at the moment to find those cows in calf and those who are not.

Arable and forage

Harvest has started, all of the barley has been cut. The droughts across Europe have pushed conventional commodities to unprecedented levels and it is hoped the organic grain market will follow suit, albeit in a more sustainable manner, rather than being driven by speculating fund managers!

We finally got the hay made on Hundred Acre field (Bockhampton Down) – very touch and go dodging the showers but it has made well, retaining a good colour and has stayed cool in the stack. Most importantly we didn’t need to wrap any.

My thanks to our contractor for having the patience and diligence to regularly check his moisture probe and wait for a while after each bout of drizzle and to Andrew for staying out until virtually midnight with me to get them all under cover as the skies blackened for a thorough soaking several hours afterward – finding bales in the dark is not easy! So we now have 200 half tonne bales for the young stock and dry cows for this winter.

Chris Blunt

Cloned beef? What does the fiasco mean for food?

6 August, 2010

“Beneath the sensationalism, it highlighted several serious issues for people who care about where their meat comes from, food quality – and last but not least – animal welfare.”    
Jason Ball,

Read the full article… No Cloned Animals Guarantee!

No cloned organic animals guarantee!

4 August, 2010

We believe in saying noDon’t worry, we won’t be stocking cloned meat – ever! Sheepdrove would rather produce organic, grass-fed meat the natural way.

We have consistently called for better traceability for food – and we deplore the secret trade of cloned farm animal offspring which has been revealed in the news. The Food Standards Agency admitted they cannot track the cloned meat which went to market. No wonder Lawrence Woodward OBE describes the food watchdog  as a ‘lapdog’…

A spokesman for the FSA  said on BBC  TV, “We don’t think there are any health risks from eating meat from cloned animals.”

More on cloned animals later this week…

Meanwhile, why not renew your faith in healthy meat? Buy from us and lose yourself in the natural taste of our sumptuous meat cuts.