Hoo's News

Updates from the world of Hoo's Herd - see more at www.hoosherd.co.uk

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Had some [hogget] last night on BBQ - divine !
Another happy customer
Posted 405 weeks ago

Bella and Calf #14 are free!

After witnessing the new young fella suckle madly to the point of giving himself a milk-frothy moustache, we established that he’s thriving and Bella’s udders are working OK. So off into the wild green yonder for the pair of them! Fingers crossed.

Posted 405 weeks ago
Matt, bit of feedback re the chops last night. - “DELICIOUS
A happy customer (anon)
Posted 405 weeks ago
<p>Calf #14 arrived this evening (a handsomely marked bull calf) thanks to mum Gatcombe Bella. After a precautionary dose of colostrum, and a tagging, we left them to get acquainted.</p>

Calf #14 arrived this evening (a handsomely marked bull calf) thanks to mum Gatcombe Bella. After a precautionary dose of colostrum, and a tagging, we left them to get acquainted.

Posted 406 weeks ago

Amelia on the mend - but now Bella!?!

Amelia is responding well to the prescribed treatment - antibiotics and iodine/fly cream. But now we have Bella penned up with her - her udder abscess has re-appeared (dormant from last summer) and we need to work hard to get it under control before it potentially affects other teats as she has a calf due any moment.

Still - every setback like this gives us a chance to learn and refine; we’ve already realised we need to gradually move calving to earlier in the year when the flies that spread (cause?) the mastitis are around, and we’ve learned the hard way with Calf #13 to have colostrum ready to go no matter what the apparent condition of cow and new-born. Colostrum is the mammal mum’s first milk which in the case of a calf, it must have within its first 6 hours; it is absorbed through the stomach lining rather than digested and gives the calf essential antibodies and nutrients that protect it from its first contact with the world ex-utero. Miss that 6 hour window, or have it suckle sub-par colostrum, and it is very likely not to make it and succumb to the basic bacteria that otherwise go unnoticed. A life lesson - literally.

Posted 406 weeks ago
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Feedback always welcome!

Especially when it’s as follows: “Mmmhh. Them burgers. Bloody lovely. Thank you.”

Posted 406 weeks ago

Hoggets available this weekend

The 9 hoggets (lambs from last year) will be back from the butcher tonight. They are available to buy direct from us (individual cuts or half-packs) or from the Little Gaddesden Village Shop (individual cuts). Perfect for barbecues, as the weather is turning for the better from tonight!

Posted 406 weeks ago

Next steps for Amelia

Meanwhile Amelia’s days as a mum are definitely over and the next days involve a course of antibiotics and a daily attempt at milking to clear the pus. Hardly the best of fun for her or us, but if we don’t she will succumb.

Posted 406 weeks ago

....Gone....

Calf #13 died overnight - sad but fact of life in this business. As the “knacker man” said to Fergus when we lost a calf a couple of year’s ago - “where there’s livestock, there’s dead stock”. Hard but true.

Posted 406 weeks ago

Touch and go...

The calf born on Friday to Amelia is just about hanging in there, suffering from severe “scour” (the runs) and the lack of decent colostrum from his mum. Lots of TLC from Fergus and a visit from the vet - here’s hoping he hangs in there.

Posted 406 weeks ago

Tough decision

Amelia, the face of Hoo’s Herd and former matriarch of the herd, has lost her complete udder to infection. So it’s a case of bottle-feeding the new calf, in the short-term, but we will need to decide what to do with a now redundant Amelia - put her out to pasture literally or figuratively….?

Posted 406 weeks ago
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Hoggets - weighing in at....

17.11 kg on average, post-abattoir, pre-butchery. Very pleased with that!

Posted 407 weeks ago

Hoggets - back from the butcher

The hoggets (lambs from last year) are on their way as of this morning, and will be back with us from the butcher at the latest next weekend (29th), maybe before.

​For those of you who pre-ordered a half-pack or certain cuts, Becca or I will make contact once we have the delivery.

Like with the recent beef delivery, we will be supplying the Little Gaddesden Village Shop with a selection of hogget cuts, plus hogget burgers, so if you are local, please support the shop and add lamb/hogget (and beef: they still have stocks in the freezer) to the list of things to buy locally.

​And of course, we at Hoo’s Herd will have stocks of these hoggets (as well as certain cuts of beef in the freezer) for anyone who makes contact directly

Posted 407 weeks ago
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<p>Calf #4 of 2013 born to Snowflake this morning. Not sure whether male or female yet.</p>

Calf #4 of 2013 born to Snowflake this morning. Not sure whether male or female yet.

Posted 408 weeks ago
Posted 409 weeks ago
Posted 409 weeks ago

Hoggets!

We’ll have a stock of last year’s lambs (known as mature lambs or hoggets once they have passes 12 months of age, not yet mutton until aged 24 months) ready from the butcher at the end of the month; some for the village shop, some for any of you who fancy a half pack (butterflied legs, whole shoulders, burgers, chops) for summer cooking. A friend is even having one or two for a big party - done whole over a charcoal pit, yum!

Anyone interested?

Matthew, Becca and Fergus

Posted 410 weeks ago
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Is there grass in that milk (or meat)?

hoos-news:

I read the following article with interest earlier today - certainly thought-provoking!

http://www.theecologist.org/News/news_analysis/1938283/is_there_grass_in_that_milk.html

Posted 410 weeks ago
<p>Hoo’s Herd (well, some of them!) enjoying the sun earlier today down at the Nettleden fields.</p>

Hoo’s Herd (well, some of them!) enjoying the sun earlier today down at the Nettleden fields.

Posted 411 weeks ago
<p>Feedback for a recent happy customer:<br/>
“:) everyone is DELIGHTED!”</p>

Feedback for a recent happy customer:
“:) everyone is DELIGHTED!”

Posted 411 weeks ago
<p>Nigel Barden mentioned us on his BBC Radio London slot today on the Robert Elms show - and gave a well-deserved plug to Nathan at  <a href="http://www.thebutcheryltd.com/">http://www.thebutcheryltd.com/</a> who have taken a 34 month old heifer carcass from us earlier in the month. The picture above is from Nathan showing excellent marbling - clearly the diet (grass only) is working!</p>

Nigel Barden mentioned us on his BBC Radio London slot today on the Robert Elms show - and gave a well-deserved plug to Nathan at http://www.thebutcheryltd.com/ who have taken a 34 month old heifer carcass from us earlier in the month. The picture above is from Nathan showing excellent marbling - clearly the diet (grass only) is working!

Posted 411 weeks ago

Radio 2 appearance (well - almost!)

Nigel Barden featured our meat (onglet and fillet) on his Simon Mayo Drivetime slot the other week. See the details etc here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b01sd15n

It was great to be name-checked but even better was the recipe he used - I was lucky enough to taste the leftovers from the programme, bizarrely whilst on a London Midland train home from London with Nigel himself. Definitely worth doing, very tasty!

Posted 411 weeks ago

Sustainable farming

This is an interesting article, in my humble opinion: http://bit.ly/12V5cFh

It’s a direction I think Hoo’s Herd is heading in. At least worth a try - if we can’t, given the relative freedom to experiment and decent resources at our disposal, then why should anyone else bother?

More on this theme to come.

Posted 411 weeks ago

Fresh Beef (update)

A big thanks to all who bought some of our latest meat, whether through the village shop or direct from us. The burgers were a particular hit! We have plenty of cuts still available - more details to follow.

Posted 412 weeks ago

Showing category "Animals" (Show all posts)

Weaning the Class of 2012

Posted by Matthew Hargreaves on Monday, March 4, 2013, In : Animals 
We moved the calves from last spring/summer away from their mothers this last weekend - albeit only into the adjoining field. The idea is that they are more than strong enough to cope without the milk that they are still getting from the cows, which, some 7-9 months post-birth, is tailing off in quantity and quality. The mothers also need a rest, to gather strength before this year's births - not least Amy who is waddling around looking like a Thelwell cartoon and reminding us that she will p...
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In the bleak mid-winter.....

Posted by Matthew Hargreaves on Thursday, February 7, 2013, In : Animals 
... a calf is born! A heifer, born to #75 (whose Herd Book name escapes me at the time of writing, but it's either Delyth or Ceinwen). Completely out of season - all her cousins or half-siblings were born May-July 2012, but the mother hadn't come into season like the others and the vet had had to kick-start her hormones with an injection back in January 2012. But - despite the cold, wet, windy and snowy weather over the last few weeks, the mother ended up pregnant to Norman and eventually pic...
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Disappearing cowpats

Posted by Matthew Hargreaves on Thursday, December 20, 2012, In : Animals 
For months now, I've been puzzled by our cowpats. As you might imagine with 20+ head of cattle, we get a lot of the things, dotted fairly uniformly around the place, and they gradually seem to disappear. But I'd noticed that after a while of sitting there in their initial, very sloppy, "fresh" state, once dried out a bit, something appears to come along and rip holes in them. I had assumed crows, pecking at them looking for grubs or worms, until one evening when on an evening walk with the do...
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Mud, mud, inglorious mud....

Posted by Matthew Hargreaves on Thursday, December 20, 2012, In : Animals 
Once again, Somme-style mud has returned to plague the lives of all of us who spend time out in the fields. The cattle don't really seem to care that much, but the poor sheep's feet are suffering. At the weekend, we had to clip the feet of Wallace (our ram), as he was limping and a closer inspection revealing an infected foot where the hooves have gone soft yet continued growing, collecting mud between the hoof and foot and creating the ideal conditions for sore feet. I suppose something simi...
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Getting stuck into fresh haylage!

Posted by Matthew Hargreaves on Monday, December 17, 2012, In : Animals 
We delivered new haylage to the breeding herd this weekend - watching them getting stuck in (literally with their horns at times) is very funny!
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Walking the dogs - ram included!

Posted by Matthew Hargreaves on Monday, December 17, 2012, In : Animals 
Some of you might recall from earlier in the year that we bottle-fed a ram lamb after his mother rejected him (the kids called him Rambo). Once weaned, he lived for a while in the garden, but he preferred the raspberry canes to eating the lawn, and after trying repeatedly to sneak into the kitchen to "snuggle" on the sofa, we had to move him into the field at the bottom of the garden.

The unforeseen consequence of his unusual upbringing is that he doesn't think he's a sheep, and prefers the c...
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The Weather

Posted by Matthew Hargreaves on Friday, December 14, 2012, In : Animals 
Spare a thought for Hoo's Herd in this particularly inclement weather. This week featured temperatures as low as -9 degrees celsius, but worse for us has been the consecutive days when the peak temperature has remained at or below freezing.

The animals themselves don't seem to be that bothered - the sheep have the most obvious insulation, with their thick woolly coats rendering them positively cosy, but even the cattle seem to be inherently hardy. Their coats go shaggy (not quite Highland Cat...
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Poachers....?

Posted by Matthew Hargreaves on Tuesday, December 11, 2012, In : Animals 
It's never quiet in the sticks! Last night, we got a text around midnight reporting strangers with torches tramping around one of our fields. Well needless to say, I missed the action, as I slept through the text - but the next morning, upon further investigation, it appears that it wasn't rustlers but poachers, on the hunt (illegally) for local game, and were nabbed in the act by the local police, a rare success for the forces of justice! Thankfully, none of our animals was hurt, in fact, th...
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Winter draws in....

Posted by Matthew Hargreaves on Monday, December 10, 2012, In : Animals 
We've started feeding haylage to the animals. Unlike last year, when we let them fend for themselves, living off the residual grass and the fat on their backs, we found ourselves able to make haylage in the summer, all 200 5ft diameter round bales of the stuff - way more than we need this year, so plenty for sale to local horse owners or farmers.

For the uninitiated (which included myself until recently), haylage is grass that's been cut when at its peak in terms of nutritional value, left to ...
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Promotion!

Posted by Matthew Hargreaves on Tuesday, September 25, 2012, In : Animals 
We decided to promote one of our heifers from the "meat locker" to the "harem", as she's about the right age for breeding and a nice specimen. So Saturday saw us rounding her up (along with her cousins) in the Nettleden field and taking her to join her aunties (and Norman!) up in Little Gaddesden's Hoo Field. That gives us now 8 breeding cows for next season, and 2 remaining animals for slaughter over the next year until our own home-grown stock comes of age this time next year.
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Calf update

Posted by Matthew Hargreaves on Friday, June 29, 2012, In : Animals 

No more calves quite yet, but here's a couple of pictures of this year's first couple of calves - amazing how quickly they grow.


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Wallace gets a haircut

Posted by Matthew Hargreaves on Friday, June 29, 2012, In : Animals 
We finally managed to get Wallace our ram to take a haircut. After a winter and spring running wild on his own (apart from the cows) and away from his ladies, it was unsurprisingly difficult to catch him. It took a couple of hours of running and driving around the field on Sunday to wear him down enough to be able to tackle him to the ground, and after 24 hours to catch his breath, Fergus gave him a pretty neat trim and this is a picture of him glaring at us straight afterwards!
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2nd Calf of the season arrives! Our first heifer....

Posted by Matthew Hargreaves on Friday, June 29, 2012, In : Animals 
We're just thinking of a name, as this one will almost certainly be future breeding stock. Mother in this case is #72 who is either Delyth or Ceinwen (can't remember which without checking the records) and sired by Ash Michael through artificial insemination. 9 months to the day!

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Calf number 3 for Amy

Posted by Matthew Hargreaves on Tuesday, June 19, 2012, In : Animals 

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Lambs - the final 2012 tally

Posted by Matthew Hargreaves on Monday, April 23, 2012, In : Animals 
We ended up with 31 lambs from 22 ewes - less prolific than last year, but about a third of the ewes were first-timers, so to be expected we believe. All bar one are frolicking around in the field with their mums, ballooning before our very eyes. Great fun to watch.

The one that is not frolicking around is "Rambo", our abandoned ram lamb mentioned in an earlier post, who has taken up residence with us, spending his nights in the garage in a crate, and his days under an apple tree in a little p...
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Hoo's Herd expands

Posted by Matthew Hargreaves on Friday, March 16, 2012, In : Animals 
We've recently bought with friends some more land at the other end of the village, or more precisely on the edge of Nettleden - a 41 acre section of the Golden Valley and I'm convinced that the stunning scenery will make a difference to the meat quality! All our edible beef stock (or "finishers" as I think they are known in the farming business) are down there, ranging from heifer number 23, the oldest and therefore next for the table, down to the 5 born within the last 12 months. That leaves...
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