The next episode of UTV’s Rare Breed – A Farming Year, filmed in March last year, is filled with new life, as it’s peak calving season and cows are calving on several of our farms.
Rare Breed – A Farming Year continues on Thursday at 8.30pm UTV where we see the first calves being born at the McGoverns farm near Clogher. Sean and the girls are up at 4am to help a heifer in distress. It turns out she’s having twins so Sean ensures the second calf is delivered safely. These new bull calves are especially important as the McGoverns lost prize animals the previous year due to the herd testing positive for Bovine TB. Speaking about the particular heifer, Sean comments, “Four calves in two years is one of the better stories.”
Valentine and Chris Hodges are checking on their bees at Greyabbey. The unseasonably warm weather is causing problems for the bees. They are out flying but the right flowers aren’t out yet. Valentine and Chris are having to add special bee food to the hives so the bees don’t run low on energy. We also find out that daffodils are not good for bees.
We then head to Fermanagh to Maguiresbridge for the first time to meet Sean Maquire, a progressive farmer with a suckler herd, and who also breeds bulls up to 16 months. An only child, he farms with his mum Margaret, who has encouraged him to take on more responsibility on the farm since his dad passed away over 20 years ago, when Sean was just 16. Sean too has a cow in calf, and with the feet already visible, he’s happy to let nature takes its course. He comments, “The least intervention the better, we’ll leave her to it now.” While the birth went smoothly, when Sean returns to the new born he discovers that the calf is struggling to get its first milk. He points out that time spent now helping it along, saves time and money in the long run.
Meanwhile in Crossgar, Robbie Neill and his vet are scanning sows Clarissa, Martha, Lady and Clare for pregnancies. Three of the four are pregnant which is great news, and Robbie is hopeful that the fourth sow will soon be pregnant. She’s a rare blood line that he’s bought in from Devon.
Mark McConnell is helping his dad Phillip at his farm on the Belfast Hills near Glengormley. He has 650 acres and they have farmed there for four generations. They are rearing 450 cattle to sell on to other farmers.Mark chats about the market prices for cattle, “Whatever the trade prices are, you have to take what you can get.” His cattle will be calving right into summer. He administers vitamins and mineral to the pregnant cows to help the calves when they are born. He says, “If you do a bit of work now, it pays off as the calves are stronger.”
UTV’s Mark McFadden narrates the series, sponsored by Moy Park. Rare Breed – A Farming Year continues on Thursday 23rd January at 8.30pm on UTV.