January 2020 Farm Round Up

Piglets in the sun

The New Year on Buttle Farm has been …. frankly, very muddy!  We are luckier than some and we know which paddocks suffer the most so we can try and be smart with where we keep the pigs during winter and which ones should be rested until Spring.   

We always aim to have 4 or 5 paddocks ‘resting’ to give us some flexibility and this month, we moved some of the younger pigs around onto fresh ground – and gave them all a stern lecture about NOT digging it all up!  These Oxford Sandy & Black girls certainly seemed to appreciate the fresh grass!

Mid-month, we finally ran out of windfall apples.  Our generous friends and neighbours keep us well stocked from their gardens and this winter, we fed the first apples last July so kept the supply going for almost 6 months!    Thanks to all who donated – we’ll be calling around again before you know it 🙂  

In between the wet and windy days, we have had a sprinkling of sunny days, with actually some very pleasant temperatures for this time of year.  We even spotted a butterfly out sunning itself on the farmhouse wall one morning – apparently, some butterflies overwinter in their adult state – who knew?

The pigs are very hardy – they are native breeds after all – and grow thicker coats in the winter but even they take to their arks when the strong winds whip through – I went out to feed one day and only the hardy Mangalitzas with their double thickness coats were out and about.  I found our two Large Black sows hunkered down in the deep straw in their arks having an afternoon snooze – but they are pregnant after all, so fair play!  They soon rallied and came out when they heard me rattle the feed bucket!

March will see some new piglets for the farm – we try not to schedule them in the worst of the winter months – although they are native breeds, it’s still not ideal to have farrowings in the coldest wettest weather.  This year’s new arrivals should start appearing in early March – just in time for (hopefully) some nicer weather and a little less mud!  

Our holiday cottage on the farm was VERY busy over the Christmas period – three separate groups came and went – always lovely to be part of someone’s holiday and some good times were had by all.  Our local tourism agency, Visit Wiltshire, published a blog of 20 Top Reasons to visit Wiltshire – I think they missed one … stay at Buttle Farm 🙂  We have some availability for spring and summer breaks, so check out the pictures and dates HERE.

And for those who read these blogs regularly, I always try to end up with an interesting fact or a major rant.  This month’s interesting fact is a really positive trend – everyone has heard about the global initiative to reduce antibiotic usage, not only in humans but in animals also.  Well, the overall use of antibiotics in UK agriculture has dropped by 53% since 2014, and in pigs, it has dropped by a whopping 60%, which puts the UK at the 4th lowest in the EU.  Good result, more work to do but good to see that British vets are doing their bit.