Friday, 14 September 2012

Last Week at Work!

It's been a long time since I posted on here and it's now my last week working at Wicken Fen so I thought I would put up a final post. My replacement may be persuaded to start her own blog, so the volunteer grazing warden blog may continue so look out for that!

Over the past few months, the rest of the foals have been born in our breeding herd of koniks and in the past week a calf has also been born over on Harrisons. All of the young so far this year have thankfully been fit and healthy, including one who is already bigger than some of our yearlings! (see picture below of him)

Bronte the Giant Foal!

So in total this year, there are 13 new foals in the breeding herd and also 1 filly over on Verralls, born to the mare that was moved over last year (she conceived before we moved her). This birth was slightly unexpected, as we hoped that we had removed the mare from the breeding group before she conceived. Her body condition dropped off a lot over the winter and it is possible that she won't be able to sustain enough weight this winter to be able to feed her filly. This will be closely monitored and there are options for us to move her up to our emergency paddock and be supplementary fed there with her foal. We will see how it goes, but ideally she will be able to keep on the weight and feed her filly!

Apart from foals being born, the breeding herd have generally just got on with life on adventurers quite happily. The harems in the herd have been mixing up a bit recently and the yearlings have mostly been kicked out of their parental harems now and are either joining the bachelor group or forming their own little groups. It's a constantly changing social structure, but there are groupings that will develop over the coming months and some of these will stay around and potentially form new permanent harems in the herd.

Over on Verralls, there has only been one major occurrence and that is the death of one of the geldings, Robin. We had noticed that he was lame on one of his hooves and monitored this closely to see if it would improve over time. After a while, the decision was made to call in our vet, Andy, and after examining Robin's leg, said the best thing was to euthanase him. He had fractured his pastern, the equivalent of our ankle, and without the ability to pump lots of money/time into his treatment, our only option was euthanasing him. It was sad to see and witness, but I understand why it had to happen, especially in the grazing system that we have set up at Wicken Fen. Apart from Robin, all the others are well and the new little filly has settled in well with everyone.

The new calf on Harrisons was born to Megan, our blonde cow over with the bulls. The calf is a heifer and was born on Monday, so is still very small and fluffy! We eartagged it on Monday, as it's easiest to get it done as soon as possible, and noticed that it wasn't very steady on one of its hind legs. Since then we haven't seen it standing/walking, although this could be because the mum wants it to just hide away. The cattle's strategy is to stash their young away for the first week or so, before it spending more time with the rest of the herd. We are expecting the calf to be standing up and wandering around by next week though, so hopefully she will be!

We have also sold off a few of our cattle. 4 cows have gone to Derbyshire Wildlife Trust and 1 bull has been sold to a local farm (he has now got his own 3 cows to take charge of!). At the moment, decisions are being made about when and how we are going to move our cattle around, to form the new breeding and non-breeding herds. We are hoping to do some of these movements in the next month or so, which will be an exciting time!

Anyway, thanks for reading and do check out the (potential) new volunteer grazing warden's blog if she decides to start one!

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