Dairy Eventfulness

Buzzing socialites that we are,

today was a chance for another off-the-Ffarm adventure: this time, our first visit to the annual Dairy Event which is held at the Royal Showground, Stoneleigh in Warwickshire.

The day began extremely early with pre-dawn management of all the animals & poultry (in fact the grumpy chickens unsurprisingly refused to budge from their roost!).  Then came the long drive to Warwickshire, which seemed to take forever; even though it was only around four hours.

After dropping off a couple of napolis of their favourite flavours of gelato with Mum & Dad in Kenilworth, we hurried over to Stoneleigh – tentatively bathed in sunshine albeit cool of temperature – where we immediately headed for the Goat Display.  There we caught up with Dreda & Emy Randall over a much-needed cuppa, before settling down to listen to a few of the fascinating lectures covering subjects such as caprine nutrition, managing a commercal herd, Artificial Insemination & rearing kids successfully.  That particular lecture was given by our friend, mentor & ‘Goat Guru’ Dreda, pictured in action below:

Expert goat breeder Dreda Randall lecturing at the Dairy Event 2008

Top pedigree goat breeder Dreda Randall lecturing at the Dairy Event 2008

Incidentally, if you ever have a burning desire to keep goats, & want simply the best, then speak to Dreda (see link for Monach Farm on the RHS of the page) – her goats are the finest you could wish for.  And although running a technically commercial enterprse she would never, ever sell to those who ‘use & abuse’ livestock: the highest standards of animal care & welfare are the order of the day….& rightly so.
we owe a huge debt of gratitude to Dreda & family; because if it hadn’t been for them we certainly wouldn’t be where we are, today….not only in terms of our wonderful goats but thanks to all their help & advice on a wider basis – including their support & encouragement which has led us to our departure into the world of luxury ice cream rather than (for the Summer at least) putting all our proverbial eggs into the basket of artisan cheese.
Quality Monach goats generously give 'Lovespoon' some product promotion!

Quality Monach goats generously give

We caught up with friends old & new; learned more about our Westfalia Metatron P21 Computerised Milking Parlour System including the complexities of setting up an auto-identification system for our goats; & gazed in awe at the latest advances in milking technology with robotic parlours (they don’t do one for goats yet – I dare say that goats would work out how to get the better of it anyway!).  It was a busy Show with a great deal to offer; & I’d recommend it to any dairy farmer, great or small as it’s packed with ideas for producers of all shapes, sizes & animal species.
Back at the Goat Exhibition it was almost the end of the Show; & we helped Dreda to pack up the stand & load the goats on boad their roomy trailer for the long journey home.  She had eight beautiful goatlings (yearling pre-milkers) on display to illustrate the four main dairying breeds in the UK:  two white British Saanens (which produce the highest volume of milk – much the ‘Holstein Friesian’ of the goat world); two British Alpines (glossy black coat) & two British Toggenburgs (the breed we personally favour, in all shades of chocolate from white to deep, dark plain cacao – robust producers of good quality, creamy milk); & two beautifully-marked Anglo Nubians (the ‘nutters’ of the caprine species, these are NOT for beginners; they could be described as the ‘Jersey cow’ of goats because whilst their milk yield is generally comparatively low, the quality in terms of rich butterfats is absolutely unsurpassed).  It was a credit to Dreda that these eight exquisite ladies who throughout the event were so beautifully behaved, had been randomly selected from the herd: which just goes to show the fantastic care they receive – a tribute to her high standards & top quality pedigree breeding.
I was also very much drawn to the two pens of pure Toggenburgs – mums & kids – with their lustrous golden locks, who reminded me of some of our lovely ladies. They were so gorgeous I’d have happily bundled them into the car & smuggled them home if we’d had room!  Although I’m not so sure about one of the adult ladies as throughout the day she kept fluttering her eyelashes at Capricorn Tony & bleating softly & alluringly to him: she’d have been left behind….grrrr!
Dreda's lovely goats proved a popular exhibit
Dreda displayed eight lovely goatlings at the Dairy Event.

But perhaps the most important part of the day, was the lecture from the Goat Veterinary Society regarding the BLUETONGUE VIRUS.  Much of this information was salient for all ruminant species; so readers, please, take heed…..






“The BTV8 Vaccine will render my Stud Male/females infertile”. 

If like us, you can only just get your hands on the vaccine, fear not; your Stud Male (regardless of species) will already have a couple of months’ semen stored in his sac (aka ‘the Bank’).  And there’s absolutely NO evidence to suggest that females won’t ‘take’ owing to the vaccine….as with any other routine treatment, just don’t stress them out whilst administering the vaccination itself. 

However if you don’t vaccinate & your livestock do contract BTV8, the likelihood is your animals will be rendered infertile & milk production will permanently, be drastically reduced.  And as vaccination isn’t compulsory in the UK if your animals do contract the virus you will NOT receive compensation from the Government: your responsibility, your risk.

“Vaccinating with BTV8 causes (at worst) abortion storms & (at best) individual abortions.”

There’s certainly no concrete evidence of this in the UK.  Some countries use a ‘live’ vaccine which may present an additional risk; however in the UK a ‘dead’ vaccine is administered which is deemed far safer.  Nations where abortion has been reported shortly after vaccination has either been attributed to possibly using a ‘live’ vaccine; or for other coincidental causes, such as poor herd mangement.

However if you do not vaccinate, & your animals fall pregnant, it may trigger an abortion storm; or those offspring carried to full term may be born dead or themselves prove infertile.

The overwhelming message is….


The eminent Veterinary Surgeon who chatted to us today was a canny chap: genial, but delivering a direct, no-nonsense, knowledgeable message packed with clearly-stated, fundamental information to help livestock keepers weigh up the pros & cons of vaccination. 

He confirmed that for goats, two vaccinations are needed as the caprine immune system is not as well developed as that of other farm animals; possibly because the goat is a browser, not a grazer.  The make of the vaccine depends on the interval between the two inoculations: three weeks for the Intervet jabs & four for the Merial. 

For the initial course of vaccination the two types cannot be mixed & matched – only use either Intervet or Merial as otherwise the vaccine will be ineffective.  However, when administering subsequent boosters (which will probably be required at six-monthly intervals although this is yet to be confirmed) either type can be administered.  Also, other vaccinations such as Lambivac or Heptavac should not be given simultaneously with the BTV8 serum – there must be a fortnight’s interval between the two.  regardless, all livestock keepers are advised to administer a booster in the Spring which will enhance the animals’ immune response in readiness for the midge season.

And then of course, we were told the grim news that a new strain – BTV1 – is on its’ way…for which a vaccine has not yet been developed.  The current spread suggests that it shouldn’t reach the UK until 2011; but if it comes here, via an imported animal?   Who knows.  Certainly a lot of livestock keepers are unhappy that we are still apparently importing either unvaccinated animals, or ones which were injected prior to leaving their country of origin without first being quarantined to ensure the jab had taken effect.  It does seem akin to lunacy….

Because certainly, ALL stock should be vaccinated: even those which will be going into the food chain before long (there’s no meat or milk withdrawal for either serotype).  If in the interim one animal gets bitten by an infected midge & catches the disease, it’ll pass it on if it’s bitten by non-carrying midges & therefore could affect your neighbours’ livestock – it’s a case of collective responsibility & the only way we’ll eliminate this dread disease.

The full horror of the dreadful Bluetongue Virus

The full horror of the dreadful Bluetongue Virus - DON'T let your livestock suffer - VACCINATE!

 After waving goodbye to Dreda we called in for dinner with Mum & Dad.  After a starter of venison paté Dad served duck breast with potato shells, mixed vegetables & warm cherry sauce; followed by a sumptuously creamy roulade & washed down with a robust red wine.  It was wonderful to see them again, in such good health & – thankfully – relatively high spirits considering it is so close to the anniversary of Melissa’s death.  

And at long last, her headstone is finally being carved from a piece of Cornish slate & should soon mark her eternal resting place beneath the tree, beside the river in a quiet corner of the pretty little village where she lived.

Tony tackled the long drive home through the darkness; & we arrived back at the farm at around midnight.  We had intended to leave the animals asleep & just quietly close the doors to the poultry arks & the kids’ stables; however the ladies in the Dairy Complex heard our arrival & immediately demanded a midnight feast.  Exhausted, we finally finished the chores at around 01:30 – the end of a long but fulfilling day.

About LittleFfarm Dairy

The LittleFfarm Dairy Team: Jo - Goat farmer & Gelatiere Artigianale, plus General Dogsbody; Tony - Airline Pilot & part-time Herd Manager, Product Taster, Accounts Secretary, Handyman etc!
This entry was posted in Animals, Business, Cooking, Dairy, Diary, Farming, Food, Goats, Ice Cream, Life, Livestock, News, September 2008, Sheep, Smallholding, Technology. Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Dairy Eventfulness

  1. And here’s another reason I sometimes wish we weren’t so remote! I’d love to participate in something like this that you write about. In NZ, I loved going to the AG shows and seeing all the animals and people who worked with them. My favourite was watching the dog trials…the commentators were fantastic entertainers in their own right. I’ve since watched some dog trials in Canada but found I simply can’t bear it. The ‘relentless politeness’ of the Canadian (as my Kiwi husband refers to us) renders the commentators so earnest it is excruciatingly painful to bear witness to.

  2. And what has happened to Pavarotti, my avitar? I like the quilted look, but don’t get what’s happened.

  3. LittleFfarm Dairy says:

    Ah, wherefore Pavarotti?

    No idea I’m afraid, I thought he was great; you’ll have to ask WordPress about that. But rather the quilt than the brown bug thing they turned me into on Stoney’s blog!!

    Dog trials here are great, as the Welsh are so passionate about shepherding & good sheepdogs – you wouldn’t believe the price a ‘top dog’ can go for.

    And of course we also have the entertaining benefit of the ‘Quack Pack’ – where Indian Runner ducks instead of sheep are herded through & over a number of obstacles – hilarious. The ducks are bred especially for it & are amazingly fast, it certainly keeps the dogs on their toes. And rest assured nobody’s harmed in the process….but the Team are always a favourite with the crowds (a bit like the incredible Chariots of Fire Carriage Driving Team but that’s another story…!).

  4. OMG! You’ll have to film it and put a trailer up on your site! That, I’d just love to see.

    Funny about the avitars…I too turned into a giant purple people eater on Stoney’s…

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