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MOVING THE HERD

May is always a busy time; planning, preparing the lands and planting our pastures. We need to move our herd of cows and calves at the beginning of October, literally to “greener pastures” Gathering the cattle and moving them sounds so simple, but in actual fact can turn into a farmer’s nightmare! Locating the cattle and making sure that no calves are left behind is time consuming. Moving slowly and calmly is imperative and helps to keep both livestock and staff safe. Once we arrive at the gate, it’s important to carefully move the cattle through the gate, using their natural instincts and being careful that we don’t come across as “predators” causing them to stampede in all directions.

The journey to Doornbosch is roughly 6km long and is made more stressful by the 2km of public tar road. This is nerve wracking, particularly for the lead horseman. A further 2 horses and riders are positioned behind the herd, and 4 staff walk alongside the cattle with red flags. Even though signage is put out before the “trek”, many drivers are reckless and take no heed of warnings to slow down. Hooting and hanging out of the window, they can agitate the horses and cattle, who may react in unpredictable ways.

The relief is palpable when the Doornbosch farm gate is reached, as this is the most stressful part of the journey. There is still 2km to go, but away from the traffic, it’s generally a far quieter and less hurried part of the journey.

Often young calves, get tired and have to be loaded onto the vehicle “bakkie” mid journey. They are then reunited with their mothers as soon as possible. There is nothing more rewarding than a happy calf suckling from it’s mum on the fresh green pastures.

Checking on the herd two weeks later, and noting the marked improvement in their condition, we feel ready to tackle another move. Times like these make all the hard work and preparations worthwhile!

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