A day in the life of Will, a Delamere Farmer
Life starts early here. Andrew and Beccy our herdsmen started at 5am this morning. They have a quick check to make sure that any kids born overnight are given some bottle fed colostrum which gives them a vital start in life.
Then the rotary milking parlour is started while Beccy collects the first of seven groups to milk. The goats are really keen to get into milking as they are given some food to eat while they are milked for their wholesome delicious goats’ milk. Each goat’s milk is recorded so we can trace the volume they give.
By 6am I am up sneaking out of the house, trying desperately not to wake my wife Katie and our 3 sons and baby daughter Daisie. Then I check that everything has been eaten up overnight. We feed our goats on home grown maize and grass silage balanced with a protein concentrate to ensure they are given the best nutrition. My job is to make sure that everything fed to the goats is consistent and they always have the right amount of food in front of them.
John, the head tractor driver, is soon on the scene cleaning out mangers. He then beds everything up to make sure the goats have lovely rustling soft barley straw beds. I am back indoors helping Kate give the kids their breakfast and packing them off to school (absolute chaos!).
Kidding is just about to get very busy with our goats due to kid in the next 6-8 weeks. I am back in the office sorting through the rota for the week – milking the goats takes some organising! Beccy and Andrew are back milking at 1pm and have finished by 4pm. Then they go home for a well-earned rest. Feet are trimmed regularly and Paul and Dave our local helpers are in every Friday trimming feet to keep goats sound on their feet and fit and healthy.
Back in the house at 5pm for me help sort the kids’ tea and get them into bed after attempting homework. Archie is not keen on homework, he takes after his father. At 8 years old he has a natural stockman’s ability with the goats though and loves getting involved on the farm. Goats are great with small children as they are gentle and safe apart from the odd billy which might give you a butt up the backside.
Back out at 9pm to check if any other goats have kidded and to see Barry and Alan who are a father and son team milking in the evening. All quiet on the kidding front and I’ll soon be in bed out like a light, no counting goats to get me off to sleep!
The goats are really keen to get into milking as they are given some food to eat while they are milked for their wholesome delicious goats’ milk.
A day in the life of Phil, a Delamere Farmer
Its 4.50 am and I am woken by the sound of the alarm clock drilling into my consciousness. As I lay there I dwell on the fact that this has to be the worst part about being a goat farmer. After a quick brew and a bowl of porridge made with goats’ milk it only takes a minute to walk down the yard to the farm buildings, a commute many people would be envious of!
In the goat shed there are 5 separate pens of goats, which we milk in the same order every day. I open the gate making sure they don’t knock me over as they run past to get to the parlour. Meg the farm dog runs to the far end of the pen to bring up the rear and some of them stop as they pass me as if to say “Good morning” - well I hope that’s what they are saying!
The next four hours are probably the busiest of the day, the goats have to be milked, fresh feed put out and clean bedding put down. In addition, all the young goats that are being reared have to be checked fed and bedded, and the baby kids have to be fed. These tasks are shared by my wife Trish and sons Joseph and James. By 9am we are all heading in for a well earned breakfast and Alex a 16 year old farm apprentice arrives for work. Alex spends 4 days a week working on the farm and 1 day at the local agricultural college. Alex has no experience but is pleasant and hardworking, and so keen he usually arrives for work early. With that attitude he can’t fail to make a success of his chosen career path.
After breakfast Joseph, James and Alex vaccinate a group of young goats to protect them against clostridial diseases and I have a meeting with an electrician that maintains the farm’s electrical equipment. We have 58 x 400 watt lights throughout the farm buildings. If we replace these lights with the latest lighting technology we will be able to cut electricity usage on lighting by more than 50%. Making this type of investment is essential if we are to control our costs in the future. After lunch the vet arrives to review our health plan which is done annually and is the guiding blueprint for the goats’ health management. Whilst on the farm she looks at all the goats, and is pleased with what she sees. In the meantime my sons and Alex have started the afternoon milking.
Its 8.30pm and I am doing the evening rounds of checking the goat sheds to make sure all the animals are well and there are no problems. It takes a lot of hard work and commitment to look after the animals in such a way that they are healthy, contented and productive. Looking at healthy animals has to be one of the best things about goat farming, and the icing on the cake has to be that they are also providing a future for my two sons and a lad from the nearby town.
It takes a lot of hard work and commitment to look after the animals in such a way that they are healthy, contented and productive. Looking at healthy animals has to be one of the best things about goat farming.