We love our animals and we love to shout about their achievements, but it has not always been an easy journey to success. It has taken years of dedication and sacrifice, and there are still plenty of things that go wrong.
- Dave has slept in a caravan in the sheep shed on Christmas Eve night because the sheep were lambing,
- Joe has helped the vet perform an emergency caesarean section on one of the cows at 3am in the middle of winter,
- Debbie has cared for a seriously unwell pig in an exposed field in the middle of a storm, and
- Melissa has unexpectedly lambed a sheep whilst being dressed up and heading out to a party.
It can be challenging, but the welfare of our animals always comes first. We have learnt a lot from other farmers in the industry over the years, and their advice has been invaluable.
Once a year in May-June we bring the sheep all together for their annual haircut. Sheep shearing is a big event in our calendar as it requires lots of manpower to lift and turn the sheep, and it is a logistical nightmare! This year in June we sheared 90 sheep; ensuring the sheep remain as calm as possible and that the lambs stay with their mothers were just a couple of the challenges we faced.
Cattlearch is the prefix that we use for our pedigree breeds; Charollais sheep, Limousin cattle and Texel sheep.
We develop a specific breeding programme for all our pedigree stock, and part of this involves buying semen from the best rams and bulls around the world and using it to artificially inseminate (AI) the ewes and heifers. Doing this ensures we are breeding the healthiest animals whilst helping to prevent complications during lambing and calving.
Throughout the year we organise regular pregnancy diagnostic (PD) scans for the ewes and heifers so that we know how many lambs and calves to expect. This also gives us some level of reassurance that the pregnancies are progressing as we would hope and allows us to adequately prepare for their due dates.
Since lambing this year, we now have 140 sheep across different breeds and as you can imagine, even just feeding them can be a daunting task. To ensure they have the space that they need we only keep a small number of them at the farm, whilst the others live in fields elsewhere.
Cattle are at risk from contracting TB, especially when they are living out in the fields in contact with other wild animals. We therefore test our herd for the disease every six months to ensure they are healthy.
In 2003 we bought a handful of pedigree Charollais sheep and since then have grown the flock significantly. These sheep have won multiple awards at shows across the UK, with some of our proudest moments being:
- Ewe winning ‘Breed Champion’ and ‘Interbreed Champion’ at The Royal Cheshire County Show
- 2x ewes and 1x ram winning the ‘Interbreed Group of Three Champions’ at The Royal Cheshire County Show
- Ram winning ‘Breed Champion’ at Staffordshire Show
- Ram being placed 2nd in its class at The Royal Welsh Show
We started breeding Limousin cattle in 2016, and now have 8 cattle. Although the herd is small, the bulls we have bred so far have seen huge success at local shows:
- Bull winning “Male Champion” at The Royal Cheshire County Show
- Bull being part of a group winning “Interbreed Champion Group of 4” at The Royal Cheshire County Show
- Bull winning “Male Champion” at Staffordshire County Show
Most recently, in 2018, we expanded our pedigree stock and bought some Texel sheep. We do not have many of these compared to the Charollais flock, but where they lack in number they make up for in awards.
- Ewe lamb winning 1st place in its class at Staffordshire County Show
- Ewe lamb placed 2nd in the “Ewe Lamb” class at Staffordshire County Show
- Ram lambs placed 3rd and 4th in the “Ram Lamb” class at Staffordshire County Show
- Ewe winning 1st place in the “Aged Ewe” class at Staffordshire County Show
- Ram and ewe lambs being placed 5th and 6th in their class out of 90 lambs, at The Royal Welsh Show
Our non-pedigree animals do not get entered into competitions or shows, but if we held our own competitions here is how we would allocate awards:
- The twin goats for cheekiest animals at Lakemore Farm Park
- Molly the pig for laziest animal at Lakemore Farm Park