Autumn should be a lovely time of year.  The trees turn wonderful shades, the weather is fresh but not too cold and we have several opportunities to spend lots of money on pumpkins, fireworks and the like.  Sadly Autumn isn’t as much fun with the animals, because it brings with it perma-mud.  This will stay with us until the spring (or later if we’re unlucky)…

Many farmers and small holders tend to bring their animals in over winter if they can.  This provides the animals with shelter, makes them easier to handle and stops the farmers having to wade through mud all day.

The horror of the mud is worst with the pigs as their hooves seem designed to break up the ground.  As they’ve already mostly stripped any greenery form their areas there is nothing to hold the soil together, and it becomes instant mud after the first decent rainfall.  Indeed it’s one of the main reasons we struggle to sell weaners at this time of the year – not many people love mud that much!  Here’s an example of what we have to cope with:

Actually this isn’t too bad as the liquefied layer is only an inch or so deep.  If we have a wet November then by Christmas it’ll be halfway up my legs, well into welly-sticking territory.  It’s not pleasant to be standing in your socks in calf-deep mud (and poo).  Trust me.

The sheep and cows are mostly better, but in some ways worse.   Their mud forms, logically enough, around where they eat, drink and through gates.  Of course these are the areas where we most have to interact with them.  It also creates sites for easy transference of footrot/scald bacteria.  The sheep’s sharp hooves cut the grass up almost as much as the pigs, and if we don’t move their feed troughs quickly enough we end up with more acres of mud.

This year we’re planning on extending our concrete area around the animal restaurant.  This should give us a better base to feed the animals, and reduce the mud in at least one area.  However there are a number of factors affecting timing for that work, so it may not happen until the worst of the mud has gone…

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