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Fothering is an old practise used in the days when hay was harvested loose or in small conventional bales that could be spread by hand.
During the winter a “sacrifice” field was chosen ,which needed rejuvenation, Livestock would be out wintered in this field fed on seedy hay which would be spread around the field each day . In wet weather the field would get stepped up evenly ( as apposed to heavily poached in one area) and the seeds from the hay fodder would re seed the field.
We have adopted this practise this winter at White Downs using dry seedy silage which was harvested from White Downs last summer . Because we are not importing fodder from outside White Downs the new sward created will consist of the same make up as the old . No artificial fertilisers will be needed as the livestock dung in the field where they spend most of their time feeding.
Modern large round bales were placed evenly around the field at harvest time ( please see “Hay Harvest” on this site) and two bales are fed to the cattle every three days . This method also eliminates tractor use as everything is done by hand.
Fothering is very suitable in exceptional wet weather conditions ,as we have suffered this winter , it avoids tractor wheels rutting and compacting the wet ground .We have also found it takes out old tractor ruts that have been present for many years !
On our land at Kiegwin we have always build a stack of round bales and fed them on a hard standing using a tractor . As a result of the recent record breaking wet weather this has resulted in an exceptionally bad mud problem which has brought a huge amount of unprofitable work upon us clearing up the endless mud.Fothering has worked well at White Downs so we have decided to introduce this practise , as from this summer ,at Kiegwin.
Fothering can only be carried out on “clean fields” usually in Entry Level Stewardship (E.L.S.). It is not suitable or allowed on rough ground in Higher Level Stewardship (H.L.S.)