Start of busy season for Rare Breed farmers

Barbara Erwin, Hillsborough Co. Down
Barbara Erwin, Hillsborough Co. Down

The leaves are changing colour and autumn is on its way for the farmers this week as Rare Breed - A Farming Year continues on UTV tonight (Tuesday, March 14) at 7.30pm.

One thing that doesn’t change is the workload for the farmers as they are busier than ever, as it marks the start of another breeding season.

Scott Lilburn

Scott Lilburn

Scanner Chris Johnson from Fivemiletown, Co. Tyrone is scanning goats at his cousin’s farm but spots something unusual - a phantom pregnancy.

Chris explained: “Autumn is a natural time for goat kidding but they have been kidding earlier this year, in spring which is out of season for them which means you can get phantom pregnancies.”

In Ballyclare, Co. Antrim, Norman Robson has turned his attention to the family’s other enterprise, he’s weaning piglets.

Norman says: “The piglets are kept in a housing crate for around four weeks to prevent the mother from sitting on her piglets and killing them.”

After four weeks, these piglets will be the first batch to move into the newly built pig house on the Robson Farm, which took three months and almost £100,000 to complete.

Barbara Erwin, from Hillsborough, Co. Down has travelled to Belfast to sell her surplus flowers at a craft fair held in the Titanic Quarter, Belfast. Barbara attends frequent fairs along with her 12 year old grandson, Jack. She sees it as an opportunity to help showcase her business.

Barbara says: “Jack has been helping me, he is my eldest grandchild and it gives us an opportunity to chat and to get to know one another so I’m very grateful for that.”

Near Templepatrick, Co. Antrim, George Bingham is cutting grass using an usual system called Zero Grazing, where all his cows stay inside and the freshly cut grass is brought to them. George says: “Having a large herd and enough ground for them to graze isn’t easy. Our ground is fragmented, meaning we’d need to walk the cows further or cross roads.”

George finds this system cheaper and easier to manage for his size of herd. He says: “Our cows are as happy inside as they are outside and this way means I can have more control over my variables in the business.”

Meanwhile in Craigavon, Co. Armagh, Scott Lilburn is in the wash house checking some potatoes.

Scott says: “We’re working with a new variety as a trial period and it hasn’t worked out that well but thankfully we only grew one acre. This outcome has been due to the weather with the warmth at the beginning of the year and into a wet season, the potatoes have been stalled in their growth period.”

Scott’s farm has created a green energy method as a solution to use the daily 15 tonne waste whilst having a profitable outcome.

UTV’s Mark McFadden narrates the series, which is sponsored by Dale Farm.