A lot of my friends are cyclists. They are not farmers; many are retired ex policemen, teachers, bankers, accountants, mechanics and doctors.
Often when we are out cycling we stop off for breakfast at some local cafe or farmers market ( Crediton being our favourite).
Sometimes I will leave the group early and head back to the farm and I will say to my friends . 'Hey guys I've got to head off now and look at my cows; see you later.
One of my friends asked the other day. What do you actually do 'when you look at your cows'.
That set me thinking OK maybe I need to share this with people.
I have worked with cattle all my life. That's all I know really.
Cattle as with all the farm animals need to be looked at once a day at least. I have made them into farm animals so I have a responsibility to look after them. In the summertime the cattle are in the fields grazing grass and for 7 months of the year this is all they do. But they still need looking at.
What I am really doing is checking they are ok. Cattle can't speak and they don't have mobiles to let me know when something is wrong or they are not feeling very well so when I go into a field with them they cannot tell me if they are all ok. So I have to check them thoroughly.
The first thing I do is to check that the group is actually in the field they are supposed to be in.
Then I count them. I know how many are in each group before I get to the field. If they are all correct and present then that's good. Sometimes if one is off on it's own this is a sign that it may be feeling unwell.
So I look at their eyes; often especially in the hot months flies can irritate their eyes and cause infection. I look at their 'bits'; female and male bits. Their feet ; often they can be lame and hobbling on one foot.
Bums, and tits, thingy's and balls
Eyes and legs and stand up tall.
So if the correct number of cattle are in the field and they are looking healthy---job done.; almost. Sometimes I can get to a field. They are all led down, facing the same way, chewing their cud and looking as cute as anything. I kind of know everything is ok.
But there are still two more things to check. Water and the electric shock on the fence. All animals like most mammals must have fresh water to drink so I need to check their water trough. Most adult cattle will drink 40 litres each per day in the summertime.
Then finally the electric fence. I need to check that there is a shock on the wire fence. Some how cattle know when there is no shock and they will get through into the next field or the neighbours garden-- heaven forbid.
After all the grass is always better in the next field.