Belted Galloways at Crickley Hill
Managing Crickley Hill's Herd of Belted Galloways
Kate Jones, Crickley's Herd Manager, talks about her working life getting up close and personal with Crickley Hill's Belties:
Mornings begin with a stock check. We drive to each site and carefully check all the cattle. Knowing them so well means we can quickly identify and treat any signs of illness or injury. We also inspect fences to make sure they can’t escape and water sources so we know they have access to clean drinking water.
Beyond our morning checks, there really is no typical day!
During the calving season (March to May) we spend a lot of time with the new calves, tagging and registering them and checking they are fit and healthy.
In the summer we carry out all our vaccination programmes. We give the cattle multiple doses of different vaccines to help protect them from diseases and pathogens. We also regularly administer fly treatments to try and keep flies away.
Summer sees us making our own hay, so I obsessively monitor the weather forecast. We need a dry spell to cut, tedder (aerate) and rake the grass – all of which we do ourselves.
In the autumn and winter we move the Belties around to different grazing sites. The quality of the grass deteriorates so we supplement their diet when necessary.
Unfortunately, we can’t keep all our calves as the herd would outgrow the amount of grazing we have available. We select a handful of heifer calves each year to join the breeding herd and the others are sold as beef to local farm shops or through our own beef box scheme. We adhere to the cattle welfare standards set out by the RSPCA’s Freedom Food scheme, a farm assurance to ensure the highest levels of animal care.
I spend some time marketing the beef and processing orders for the beef boxes. Our meat is popular with local people who like to know the provenance of their meat, who understand our levels of care and are also keen to limit their food miles.
As much as I love to be outside, there’s other paperwork to be done too. I make sure we are fully compliant, which might mean registering births and deaths with the British Cattle Movement Service, registering our grazing land with the Animal Plant and Health Agency, or negotiating grazing contracts and licences.
This is a job that sees me out and about in some of the best scenery the UK has to offer. I wouldn’t change it for the world!