Why do cows get moved indoors for winter?

We will be tackling questions like this as well as many others in a series of up-coming blogs written by Justin – our Farm & Estate Manager.  

We’ll be featuring seasonal topics about our farming operations, including our livestock and the crops we grow.  It’s also your chance to reach out to us, if there’s any topics you’d like us to highlight. For suggestions drop us an email at info@countryside-trust.org.uk

So, without further ado, over to Justin for your first blog instalment, which shines the limelight on our wonderful cattle….

As the seasons change so does where our organic beef cattle call home. Gone are the long warm days with the sun on their back and instead we have storm force winds and never-ending rain.

Our herd is now all safely back at Occombe in the barns for the winter. Having them indoors brings with it a new routine for us as well; feeding daily with organic haylage and corn grown on the farm, cleaning and bedding up and generally keeping an eye on them.

Different groups are housed together and the cows have more energy to put into their unborn calf now that they are not providing milk for their current offspring who have been weaned.

In terms of the land this break in grazing gives the pastures a well-earned rest and prevents the cattle from poaching the wet muddy ground. Poaching is a term that describes the damage a heavy hoofed animal such as cattle or horses can do to the land in wet conditions by destroying the green cover of pasture, churning it to wet sloppy mud which here in Torbay resembles tomato soup… Heavy poaching is both bad for animal welfare but also for the soil and the environment.

As an organic farm the health of our soil is very important and erosion or compaction causes nutrient loss, reduces crop yields and lowers the soils ability to absorb carbon impacting climate change.

Whilst the cattle are indoors the sheep remain outside other than coming in after Christmas for lambing. So, on a final note, please can I remind dog owners that if they see livestock, to keep dogs on a lead. If a pregnant sheep is chased the distress can lead to miscarriage. It’s so very sad and unfortunately happens too often.

Thanks all and stay tuned for my next blog coming up soon!