The Right Colour (a novel about a cow) by Andy Frazier
Andy Frazier has been writing books for two years now, from his base in South West France. He started life farming with his father and brother at Coningswick farm in the English Midlands, which in those days specialised in quality beef and pork. After a string of successes exhibiting commercial cattle and pedigree Bleu du Maine sheep, Andy left the family farm to set up a livestock supplies business dealing specifically in grooming products as well as supplying services to the pedigree cattle industry. Over the next 10 years his achievements in dressing and preparing show animals saw him being twice in charge of the supreme champion at the Royal Smithfield show, as well as cattle and sheep breed champions in a variety of pedigree breeds at just about every national and county show. He has also judged cattle and sheep at many of these events. For a 12 year spell Andy successfully bred pedigree Texel sheep under the prefix Menithwood until the flock was dispersed in 2004. In addition to this he continued to help and advise with the prominent Coningswick flock of Beltex sheep run at the family farm. After selling his grooming business to Ritchey Tagg in the mid nineties and progressing into the IT industry, Andy’s career somehow evolved into that of a freelance business analyst. For a number of years he then worked for blue chip clients such as Barclays Bank, Cable & Wireless and Cisco Systems, mostly writing detailed and highly technical documentation that few people ever read!
In 2006 Andy opted for a lifestyle change and moved to South West France with the objective of one day becoming an author. For a while he ran a small building business alongside renovating a large old farmhouse until, with the support of his partner Wendy, he started writing novels some two years ago. During that period he has now written no less than nine books, many of which are targeted at children and most of which feature farm animals of some kind or other. He shares the smallholding with Wendy, two dogs, half a dozen sheep and a small collection of wines.
The Right Colour
Andy completed his first novel called The Right Colour in November 2010. Set in the mid nineteen eighties, the book tells a highly entertaining story of Princess, a calf born in north Scotland in a pedigree Aberdeen Angus herd but by a Limousin sire. The tale follows the calf as she tells her own story of growing up in hard times which include her being subjected to bullying and racism. As the Princess overcomes these problems, she sets her sights on the winning the greatest accolade a cross-bred animal could ever win, to be champion at the Royal Smithfield Show. She also develops a bizarre desire to meet the Queen herself. The book is written with sharp humour and there are some laugh-out-loud moments as Princess gets into some quite unusual situations and engages in some curious dialogue with a few other animals.
Drawing from the author’s own cattle experience, many of the settings and the people that this animal encounters are recalled with extreme accuracy, including the sights, sounds and smells of those great December days in Earls Court, London. Some of the characters even bear an uncanny resemblance to people involved in the industry at that time. However, the passion with which this tale is told provides its real appeal. That appeal is not just to cattlemen young and old but to a whole cross-section of the public, many of whom are blissfully unaware that the languid world of livestock showing could be quite so exciting.
The Right Colour has developed a cult following through the British livestock world and has had some fantastic reviews. One review in a Scottish national paper said “The book is littered with colourful characters…..It could only have been written by someone with a great deal of knowledge in the industry…. The tale is also a great insight into animal psychology!”
The Right Colour is now being made available through a selection of agricultural traders throughout the UK as well as online in paperback or e-book form from www.andyfrazier.co.uk, published through Lulu Press.
I have just been reading in Defra’s Farming Link magazine that Great Britain has been officially free of brucellosis since 1985.
Brucellosis of cattle, also known as contagious abortion and Bangs disease, is caused by an infection with the bacterium Brucella abortus. This bacterium not only affects cattle, but also sheep, goats and pigs. Brucellosis infection of cattle causes abortion, premature calving of recently infected animals, most often between the fifth and eight month of pregancy and infertility.
Defra are encouraging farmers to monitor their cattle and to report any bovine abortions or premature calving that takes place less than 271 days after service to their vet.
We have had 10 heifers grazing in the paddock and back field all Summer and today we moved them indoors for the Winter. The heifers will be wormed in the next few days a standard practice afer spending the Summer months grazing the fields.
One of the heifers has stiff back legs so we have sectioned her off so that she has her own quarters and won’t be knocked by the other nine heifers in the fold yard.
The animals are given milled barley and silage to eat twice a day.
Monday is market day and if livestock are ready for sale then Monday is the day they go.
We have had two bulls in the fold yard all Summer. They are lovely bulls and I have got quite fond of them and have given them names, which is never a good idea! They were given the names Ginger and Two Horns.
Two Bulls Ready For Market
Two Horns was ready for market last week but unfortunately he wouldn’t load, although that was lucky for him as he had a weeks reprieve!
This Monday the plan was to get Two Horns into the trailer and if Ginger went in as well then it would just mean turning him round and getting him out. Sounds easy, but let me assure it’s not!
Two Horns is obviously called two horns as he has two horns on his head. Usually the cattle are dehorned when they are less than a week old butTwo Horns’ mother becomes very aggressive when she has calved and she calved out in the field and so it wasn’t possible to catch the calf to dehorn him, thus the name. Since Two Horns mother was aggressive at times, it was felt that Two Horns also had this potential. With this in mind it was felt for everybodies safety better if we just sent Ginger along to market as well.
My father-in-law wasn’t totally convinced we should send him as he didn’t think he had reached full market weight, but because of the safety issue decided it was best to take him, poor Ginger , not the best decision for him!
News from the market was good, although having not wanted to go into the trailer, neither bull wanted to come out. Usually way! Both bulls weighed well and the Ginger bull fetched just under £900 and Two Horns fetched over a £1000.
I was sad to see the bulls go as I talked to them everyday, twice a day at least, so they will be miseed, but it’s good that they fetched a good price at market.
When do farmer’s prefer their cows to calve? We prefer to calve our herd of beef cattle cows after the end of February and through Spring.
Dear Sara, I am conducting some research and wonder if you might be able to help. Can you tell me when do farmers generally prefer their cows to calf and are there any circumstances that you might be able to suggest as to why a cow would calve in July e.g. premature birth etc. I know this might seem a strange enquiry so I apologise. Many thanks Chris
Thanks for your enquiry on the farmingfriends website. My husband is the cattle expert and I have asked him his opinion.
He says that they prefer to calve their beef cattle cows after end of Feb and in Spring as they are less susceptible to pneumonia. The disadvantage of a calf being born in Spring is that when the cows/calves go out to grass the calf will still be suckling milk from the mother and not utilising fully the grass.
If a calf is born in the Autumn/Winter then they can utilise the grass when they go out in late Spring/Summer. The disadvantage of calving in early winter is the calf is growing when the weather is cold and wet and so more susceptible to pneumonia.
Hope this helps. Let me know if you have any more questions related to this.
Sara @ farmingfriends
Let me know your views on the preferred time for calving cows.
The recent tragic event of the vet who was killed by a herd of cows whilst walking her dogs and the injuries sustained by David Blunkett as he walked his dog, highlight the need for a greater awareness of what to do when walking in a field of cattle especially when you have a dog.
try to walk near to a hedge or fence so that you can get close into the hedge if need be.
don’t run as the cattle are likely to start running as well and they can run fast.
stay calm so as not to spook the animals.
keep any dogs on a lead so you can control the dogs.
However, lets just clarify the situation when walking with a dog. It is sensible to keep the dog on the lead whilst walking through the field, as the herd may be dispersed across the field and you can keep the dog under control and away from the cows. The problem occurs if a cow sees the dog and reacts to the threat of the dog. One of the first signs that a cow is becoming agitated is that it will lift its head up and look alert. It may then start to nod its head. Nodding of the head is a sign of aggression and it is advisable to slowly retreat from the cow, watching it all the time. It is recommended to release your dog from its lead if there is a danger of the cow attacking. The cow is most likely to feel threatened by the dog (rather than you) so releasing the dog will separate you from the dog. Most dogs can run much faster than a cow and you can try to distance yourself from the dog. If a cow starts to nod its head and come towards you then it is likely to be already in very close proximity to you (probably less than 10 metres) and so you will not have much time to take action (probably less than 2 seconds ).
People often feel in danger from a herd of cows when walking across a field and the cows start to follow them. The faster the person walks/runs, the faster the cattle will chase behind. Attacks tend to be from a single cow that has become aggressive and not from a whole herd of cows. If a whole group are trotting behind you then it is likely to be inquisitiveness. In this situation the only danger is if one of the animals inadvertantly kicks as they pass by or gets over excited as they trot up to you. Just turn around, jump up in the air, wave your arms in a star-jump style and shout at the herd. This will stop them from running towards you and temporarily disperse the group of cattle. Then slowly walk towards the closest hedge or boundary feature where you can safely get out of the way.
I mentioned that cows can kick. In fact they can kick very hard, but it is usually only when they are frisking and frollocking about and are excited. They kick with their rear legs and kick out sideways, up to a height of about 1.8 metres. They tend to kick as they run past a person and sort of twist their bodies around. If you imagine a cow running past you and then pivoting on their front legs and kicking out sideways then you will realise that they can kick out some distance (2-3 metres). So if one runs past you, try and keep a good distance away from it.
We keep cattle on our farm and as I have not been brought up with close access to cattle, although I think they are beautiful creatures and on the hole docile and placid animals, I am still wary of them as they are such big creatures and all animals including humans, can behave unpredictably.
If I have to go into any of our fields with cattle in, then I always make sure I know where the cattle are and where I can get out of the field if I need to. As I move about the field I make sure that I always have one eye on the herd’s location so that I can keep a check of their movements and behaviour.
It is always a good idea to check if the cattle are grazing with a bull and to be aware of where the bull is. If a cow is in season and the bull wants to mate with the cow then the bull and possibly other cows will be trying to mount each other and cattle leaping up into the air can be an added danger that you need to be vigilant of.
It is usually cows with new born calves that are aggressive/protective. The cows instinct is to protect the calf at all costs and an unknown human and a dog are seen as a threat to the calf. Even when the calves are growing and are more than a week old, it is important not to get in between the cow and a calf as the cow will still be protective towards her calf and doesn’t like to be separated from the calf.
Today the cattle went out to grass for the first time.
All the cows, the bull and the calves were rounded up in the fold yard passage way this morning whilst I held the gates so they couldn’t all charge out. I have to say it’s scary when all the cows are facing you and you only have a stick between you and them!
Once they were all rounded up then Farmer Ian held them back whilst the gates were removed and then with Farmer Steve and Farmer Terry at the back, the cows were allowed to move forward.
It’s amazing how quickly they move as they seem to know that they are going out to grass. The cows and bull all make a run for it with the calves trotting behind. Once in the field they like to run the full length of the field before they settle down to the job of munching the grass. Whilst the cows are running up the back field the farmers get the electric fence in position and switched on.
When the guinea fowl were turned out to free range for the day, they didn’t seem happy that the cattle were in the field that they like to visit and eat grass and lay eggs in the hedgerow, but I’m afraid they’ll all just have to get along!