Welcoming new life to Shugborough
Here at Shugborough, we are lucky enough to have a working farm, where you can witness farming first hand. An important part of farming is the breeding of animals, and our farm team are working hard to make sure that we are successful in the spring.
Our farm has received one of the highest standards of welfare for our cattle, Freedom Foods Accreditation. So, we manage our cattle with their best interests at heart. All of our livestock are 100% pasture fed; they live their lives out in the parkland, grazing productively to aid in the conservation of our parkland at Shugborough. Currently, Shugborough has southdown sheep, dorkin chickens and longhorn cows.
This summer, we initially tried to artificially inseminate our cows. However, out of the nine cows, only two took and became pregnant. Traditional breeds, like our Longhorns, are more receptive to insemination via bulls, so we have hired in a bull named Zinfandel. He is currently in our Hall field in front of the Mansion, and he will be with us until all of our cows are in calf.
In order to ensure a maximum success rate, our farm team has synchronized our cows so they will be more receptive to the bull. If you see some pink painted on our cows back, they haven’t done their hair ready for their date night! Their backs are actually painted so we know which ones of our cows have been served.
If you look out into our fields, you may see a change in our cows’ behaviour. There may be an increase in movement, an increase in licking and sniffing and the resting of chins on other cows’ backs. You may also be able to see Zinfandel showing his flehmen. This is where bulls curl their upper lip to detect female pheromones. Don’t be alarmed if you see some aggression and mounting, it’s all part of the breeding process. By May next year, we should be welcoming some lovely new calves.
Our farm team have decided to stagger the breeding of our sheep in 2018. This means that we currently have two rams. They will be let out with a selection of our ewes at certain times, to make sure that our farm team are able to predict when they will be lambing.
Don't be alarmed if you see that some of our ewes have a nice green splodge on their backs, its actually a positive sign! It shows that they have been serviced. You will be able to see our beautiful sheep in the field next to the Mill Pond. Hopefully, we will have some lovely lambs next year.