Living with livestock

The Morning feed

There is a symphony of noise, activity and expectation as I walk out the door (side stepping 4 cats who shadow me tripping my stride) to start the morning feed. Pigs squealing and grunting with delight, the cows mooing, sheep running to their feeding area and the goats jumping onto the hay rack to get an enhanced view of breakfast arriving. The little foals high pitched neighing with heads straining through the gate gap. The emus running from the the woods and the top of the hill field, look like something out of Jurassic park.

The Reindeers jump into their part of the massive barn, all I can see are huge antlers above their compartment as they silently await. The Alpaca ever nosy peer over their special area of the barn making delightful little crying noises.

 I feel in a perpetual rush to satisfy their morning hunger. The pigs never fail to get served first such is their excited anticipation for food. Slowly the demand noises give way to a satisfying stillness and contentment. Ever listened to a cow chewing on hay, it is so calming. Pigs by contrast are a frenzy of noise and excitement until the last food drop has gone.

Even the livestock that do not get feed because they are grass only get a full field and visual inspection. You just never know what may need attention!  

So many farmers told me that sheep are born wanting to die and that “keep livestock expect dead stock”. At first every still sheep in a field would have me rushing to it – mobile at ready to call for help, expecting the worst. But after four years of sheep keeping, I may still run but I have never seen this death wish. Even those in the flock struggling to lamb, prolapses and blowfly strike have all pulled through. So I now wonder whether this is a man made myth to justify less than satisfactory stock management or to make new farmers run.

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