Pont Stock Checkers Course (30 August 2016)
Thanks to Rachel Barber for this report, and some photos of ash die back disease on her ash trees …
Interested in what PONT does – and interested in getting grazing animals and meadows working together, I went along to the Stock Checkers course highlighted on the CMG blog on 16 August. The course was held at the Wildfowl and Wetlands centre at Llanelli. I’ve not been long in the area and it was my first trip there. It was a sunny and very warm day – and the views from the training room out over the estuary were stunning. There was plenty of information given on the course – thank you Hilary for an excellent delivery (and Emma for arranging the training). There was also plenty of discussion in the group – and lots learned.
In the context of grazing for nature conservation, we covered the fundamentals of the legal welfare framework – and the signs of healthy and unhealthy stock. We looked at shelter, fencing and dangers to animals out grazing both natural and human related. The indicators of common diseases in cattle, sheep, horses, goats and pigs were reviewed in a structured way so that there was a methodology for reporting (should we actually be doing a formal stock check)…
(Always remember to check numbers, sometimes not as easy as it seems…ed.)
In the afternoon session we meandered out to look at the stock that the WWT have on their land to apply some of the checking methods we had tackled in the class setting in the morning. It was also of course a chance to have a nosy at what plant life and insect life was immediately visible.
I don’t have lots of stock – but 4 ponies do need managing for their own health and that of the land. I came away from the course with new ideas as well as the fundamentals in stock checking under my belt.
Whilst on the subject of Pont could I ask about the hay exchange? This is the first year we have put our haylage on the site. I would be interested in any feedback that others have on that route or others used to sell their meadow hay.
Eithinduon is losing its ash trees to Dieback. Some have fully succumbed but it’s mixed, with others which are showing few or no signs of attack. Those holding out tend to be the older and larger ones – but there are a few in some rows planted some 10 or so years ago which are currently ok although side by side with the brown stems of those already hard hit or dead. I can only hope that the resistance shown continues – although I am not holding my breath. Not knowing how things will look next spring, I have been round to take some photos. I won’t share the ones with the sad view of the bare stems – unseasonal twigs with a few limp leaves still clinging but a couple of glorious trees that I am going to miss very much. …. Thanks to Rachel Barber.
In our area of North Carms, (Gelli Uchaf) 2016 is the year when ash die back has also become all too obvious. Many young trees were showing typical dying leaves, and yellow browning of stems earlier in the year. Now there are huge numbers of trees which even at the beginning of September have lost all their leaves. This will increasingly create major landscape impacts, as the trees die completely, but also possible safety concerns, particularly for those mature trees lining the county’s lanes and roads. However I would speculate that there might be a silver lining for meadow owners in that increased twiggy/branch debris being blown off affected trees into surrounding pastures might be of benefit to meadow fungi and plant growth as this material gets broken down, and nutrients recycled.
I wonder what other reader’s experience of this condition on local land is?
An update about the October meadows meeting at Myddfai Visitor Centre on the morning of Saturday October 8th, from 10.00am…
In addition to the opening talk by Sheikh Ahmed on the physicians of Myddfai and their use of herbal remedies, 4 local meadow owners will be telling us a little bit about their own meadows and holdings…
(Aftermath regrowth at one of the Dyfed Permaculture Trust scythed hay meadows, above on 14/09/)
Laurence Brooks is a consultant ecologist, and owns a 25 acre farm, which was bought about 4 years ago. It had one established herb-rich hay meadow (about 2 acres) and no areas had any chemical inputs – or inputs of any other kind – time/effort etc! for quite a few years. It was mainly horse grazed with a few sheep and a lot of chickens. It still has no inputs (except time, money and effort!) and now has three meadows, one arable field and three fields permanent grazing for 11 cows, and about 35 sheep including lambs. Just over 1 hectare has been planted as broad leaved woodland and one ungrazed enclosure contains a pond and is turning to scrub.
At the summer social meeting, Colin Cheesman commented that all meadows are individually different and in many ways unique, so it’s great to have such a wealth of practical knowledge and the experience of other Carmarthenshire meadow owners to listen to, and learn from.
There will be also be an opportunity to ask questions, and discuss ideas for further development of the meadows group. The meeting is free for anyone wishing to attend and refreshments, including cakes and lunch, will be available from the centre’s cafe. It would be really helpful for the centre’s catering team if anyone planning on attending could let me know in advance, and if they’re likely to stay for some lunch so that Myddfai have an idea of numbers of numbers to expect..
Please email Julian Wormald … firstname.lastname@example.org
Thanks for reading.