Exploring the beauty of Northern Ireland, John Craven finds out about Rathlin Island's kelp industry. Anita Rani meets a farmer whose animals are now TV stars.
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This is Northern Ireland,
a place steeped in tradition,
but when it comes to farming, there are some people here
who are looking to the future by planting their crop in the sea.
Anita is discovering how one pioneer left his footprints
on this landscape for all to follow.
I mean, a man to walk the whole of the Ulster Way
when he was 88 takes some doing.
When he was 88?!
Tom's finding out about the dangers of being
a modern-day James Herriot.
Unfortunately, about four years ago,
I was operating on a cow and did receive a kick in the face.
A broken nose, I bit through my lip, a couple of loose teeth
and fairly bruised and swollen for a few weeks.
And Adam has got his hands full with some new Berkshire pigs.
We've never had them on the farm before,
so it's really quite exciting to be introducing a new breed.
The timeless, verdant landscape of Northern Ireland,
ringed by unspoilt coast. No wonder film and TV drama crews flock here.
Today, Countryfile is also relishing the beauty of this place.
We'll be exploring the country from rural Armagh
to rugged Rathlin Island.
Whether we know it or not, most of us are very familiar
with the beautiful scenery of Northern Ireland,
as so much of it appears in film and television programmes.
Take this dramatic avenue of trees known as the Dark Hedges,
a very fitting name for a place that
appears in Game Of Thrones as the King's Road,
and, unsurprisingly, now it's a very popular tourist attraction.
But it's not just scenery that productions need.
The filming boom has been brilliant for local businesses.
Kenny Gracey from Tandragee, County Armagh,
is a rare-breeds farmer.
Seven years ago, he was asked to supply his historic longhorns
for a period film, and he's never looked back.
These are the old longhorns, yeah. I have a herd of these,
and they're recognised as one of the oldest breeds of cattle around.
Some people would even say they're the picture of what's depicted
in the cave drawings, with their markings and their horn formation.
I have them to give the credit to, because the first film I did
was Your Highness, and they wanted old, medieval-looking cattle.
-These are ideal.
-They look pretty fearsome to me. Are they tame?
Oh, they're very, very docile.
Filming may take Kenny away from the farm for days on end,
but looking after the animals day to day still needs to be done.
A wee bit on top of that silage
-while I grape it up.
-I'm the assistant.
-Yeah. That's it.
With his time-warp menagerie, Kenny has become THE go-to man
for period dramas and films produced in the province,
and if it doesn't exist, he'll create it.
Kenny has turned the clock back 2,000 years
and bred his own type of Iron Age pig.
So, tell me about Hilda and Mabel. What's special about these two?
Well, Hilda and Mabel, you probably wouldn't recognise them as a breed.
Of course, you can't get Iron Age pigs nowadays,
but I wanted something to look like period,
so they are a mixture of about four or five different breeds,
which I bred to look like Iron Age pigs.
They have fitted the bill really well -
lovely, coarse hair, lovely colouring.
Both Kenny's Iron Age pigs
and his rare-breed saddlebacks have appeared in Game Of Thrones.
As well as animals, Kenny has a fair few historical agricultural items
that grace the film sets.
So, what else do you have in here?
Well, I have something I think rather special
and I reared this from a wee baby, and I'll let you see it
-and make your own mind up.
Hello, darling. Come on.
-Oh, it's a deer.
HE CLICKS HIS TONGUE
-Yeah. Look at that.
Can I stroke...Yana?
Kenny, I'm amazed by this,
-because deer are known to be very nervous animals.
So how have you managed to get Yana so friendly?
Well, now, I did rear her from a baby. She was an orphan.
She lived in the house with me for a year.
And her and I are great friends.
Shake hands, come on. Shake hands.
Good girl. Oh, she's a good girl.
Besides Yana, Kenny has several other remarkably well-behaved deer
he supplies to productions.
-Yes. There we go.
Kenny's obviously got the knack,
but it's my turn to direct a real diva - the Empress,
a middle white sow who stole the show in the BBC drama Blandings.
-Come on, then, this way.
-That's how you guide her.
-Say hello to the dog.
-All right, this way. This side, this side.
-We've got it.
-Up her nose, down closer, and that will...
-That's it. Good girl.
How does the Empress understand?
Well, she feels guided by the stick at this side,
and you're keeping her going
because that stick is keeping her from going to the right,
and you're keeping her from going to the left with your body.
-She's very happy right now, is she?
-Yes, she is happy.
She seems pretty happy, doesn't she?
Well, I've tangoed, I've cha-cha-cha'ed and I've salsa'ed
but waltzing with a pig? Now, that's a first.
This way, this way. This way.
-Oh, look at that, Kenny, I've done it.
When I go to Yorkshire next year,
we'll be able to get you into the show ring to show the pigs for us.
In we go. Easy as that. Look at that.
I've just taken a pig for a walk. Amazing. Come on.
If someone had said to you eight years ago that this is what
you would be doing, that you would be on film sets with tame deer
and wonderful rabbits that actors want to cuddle,
would you have believed them?
Not in the least.
I'd have thought their head was gone because...
Well, the film industry in Northern Ireland has really taken off.
I would say it's my main income now.
I can't believe what has happened, but it's great,
it's interesting, and long may it continue.
This could well be one of the most famous farmyards in the world.
My father always said, "Where there's muck, there's money,"
so I'm hoping.
I think he was right.
Safely handling powerful animals like these
isn't something to be taken lightly.
Get things wrong and it could end up in a serious injury and,
as Tom has been finding out,
that's a problem faced every day by Britain's farm vets.
MUSIC: All Creatures Great And Small theme
Think of a rural vet going about their daily business
and it's easy to conjure nostalgic images
of a tweed-clad gent tending all creatures great and small.
But the truth is, farms are dangerous places to work,
with the death toll across the industry being six times higher
than construction sites, and many of the toughest jobs fall to vets.
Foot-trimming, castration - it's all in a day's work for a farm vet,
but when a large part of your working life is
spent at the back end of a big beast,
kicking, crushing and butting are all occupational hazards.
In fact, being a vet who works with horses is now recognised
as having the highest risk of injury of any civilian profession.
Research has shown that in a 30-year career, an equine vet
can expect to sustain seven or eight injuries
serious enough to impede their work,
with nearly a quarter of those requiring hospital admission.
But detailed statistics like that just aren't available
when it comes to vets who work with farm livestock.
The best indicator is a small study
by the British Veterinary Association.
It showed that more than half of vets working with livestock
were injured in a single year, nearly a fifth of them severely.
This lady seems a bit lively, a lot of crashing about.
Yeah. She's a fairly fresh-calved cow. Was quite animated just now.
She wants to get back into the shed and back to her calf.
Today, vet Colin Buchan is pregnancy-testing on a farm
in South Lanarkshire, and he's got a couple of flighty customers.
It's a time when I am glad there's heavy metal between me and her.
-You get on with what you have to do
and if there's any safety things, just shout.
-We'll just all stand back, and then she's good to go.
One by one, the cows are brought in to a metal pen called a crush
so they can be diagnosed.
It's one of the riskiest parts of the job.
So, how's that one?
Yeah, three months in calf. So good news.
What are the main risks for vets?
Obviously, standing behind a cow like this,
there's a very real risk of getting kicked.
We've got a nervous animal,
performing procedures to her that she potentially doesn't want,
so a kicking injury, a very real occurrence.
Likewise, if the handling facilities aren't great,
she can back out of this and potentially crush me
against a gate behind me,
another animal being brought up behind.
So there are plenty of opportunities for being injured at work.
After ten years in the business, Colin knows
first-hand about the hazards posed by the hooved and dangerous.
Unfortunately, about four years ago, I was operating on a cow
and did receive a kick in the face myself.
A broken nose, I bit through my lip, a couple of loose teeth
and fairly bruised and swollen for a few weeks afterwards.
But unfortunately, it is part of the job. Work goes on and life goes on.
According to the Health and Safety Executive,
the vet should be working with the farmer to achieve
the right level of safety for the job,
but the farmer has to provide well-maintained equipment.
Luckily, certainly in this area, we have a good working
relationship with our farmers.
There have been times where you've got to say,
"I don't feel safe,"
and they understand that if we say we aren't happy
with something, they take it on board
and seek to rectify any problems. Unfortunately, on a frequent basis,
-there are facilities that are substandard.
This farm is an example of good practice,
but data from the Health and Safety Executive
suggests that nearly half the injuries
sustained on farms from livestock are due to inadequate facilities.
Here at Edinburgh University Royal Vet School,
they teach their new breed of students
how to recognise risk from day one.
Nobody likes doing paperwork, nobody likes writing risk assessments.
Actually, once you've been out on farm,
you've been knocked about a few times,
you'll start to run a continuous risk assessment in your head,
and you don't even realise you're doing it.
As a lecturer and a practising vet, Dr Alex Corbishley has to be
prepared to work in a variety of situations.
Of course, we'll never knowingly put ourselves or anyone else
in a risky situation,
however, we will try and get the job done as often as we can.
To give you one anecdote, to compare to a different industry,
I've been out on a farm in a previous job where we had
a number of builders helping on the unit,
and a couple of the chaps actually walked off the farm and said,
"You wouldn't get away with this on a building site."
Now, we actually completed that job safely and the system that
was available was actually very effective and safe to work in.
I think it made me much more aware of some of the risks we do take.
But it's quite an interesting comparison,
because people have talked about how the injury
and accident rates in construction have been pushed down in a way
that, sadly, on farms we haven't seen yet, have we?
That's commonly what you hear and, at the moment, there's
probably some lessons we could learn from that.
This is one of the world's leading vet schools,
with a top-of-the-range farmyard.
So, can anyone describe the features that we're looking at here?
It's got a high side, so they can't really see anything too scary,
-and it's going to push them in one direction.
If a cow can get its nose over the top of something,
it thinks it can get itself over the top of something, so the last
thing you want is 600 or 700 kilos of cow landing on top of you.
But farms don't always glitter with gold-standard equipment.
Now, I look at this kit here. This is pretty much the Rolls-Royce end.
I haven't seen much like this on the average cattle farm in the country.
I mean, you've got an unfair advantage here.
So, this system has cost thousands of pounds to put in,
but what we try and teach our students are the features of it
that make it safe, that make it effective,
and you can do much of this quite cost-effectively on many farms.
So the principles that are here can actually be applied
-pretty simply in most farmyards?
So, should more be done to make farmyards a safer place for vets
and farm workers?
And could lessons be learned from sectors like the building industry,
where the number of injuries has fallen by 40% in the last 15 years?
'Andrew McCornick runs a mixed beef and sheep farm
'in Dumfries and Galloway,
'and is also vice president of NFU Scotland.'
Are farmers doing enough to keep vets safe on their farms?
We're working in partnership with the vets.
We're trying to get everything right,
because it's not in our interest to get vets or ourselves injured
while we're working with cattle.
But the Health and Safety Executive has said that nearly
half of injuries involving animals are due to inadequate facilities.
It sounds a bit like the farmers' fault to me.
It's a good way to put the blame onto someone else.
We certainly need to keep everything up-to-date as much as we can.
We've got to make everybody aware of what the risks
and the liabilities are in this.
Is there a reporting structure for maybe, perhaps,
minor injuries, like we've seen in construction, which has
helped to drive the whole culture of safety?
Does that exist in farming?
I don't think you're comparing apples with apples,
comparing us with the construction industry.
We're in a totally different environment.
We are working with animals.
The minute we put them into handling facilities,
we're actually inciting the flight-or-fight mechanism in them,
so we can't say 100% we could control that.
That's why we have to have good facilities.
Fresh efforts are now being made to reduce these risks.
The HSE is revising its strategy
on safe working practices in agriculture,
and the NFU is working with them.
We actually are part of a farm safety initiative that was
started last year with the Health and Safety Executive, NFU Scotland,
NFU England and the National Farmers' Union Mutual.
We're out there in the forefront
trying to highlight what the issues are on farms.
And so do you think if vets come onto farms in Scotland,
and as far as you can speak for England,
they can be pretty confident they're going to come to a safe place?
Yes, they should.
We are trying to bring this to the forefront.
Safety is really important to our industry.
Whatever we can do to try and improve that, we will,
and that initiative is trying to draw attention to farmers
and to make them think twice
before they do some of the tasks that they're doing.
Moves from the industry to make farm working safer could make
a real difference, but when you're working with unpredictable animals,
then the life of a farm vet can never be entirely risk-free.
They might say, "It shouldn't happen to a vet,"
but it's not easy to make sure it doesn't.
Just off the coast of Northern Ireland
lies the island of Rathlin.
At just six miles long and one mile wide,
the island is small in size but rich in wildlife.
Its beauty doesn't stop at this rugged coastline.
Perhaps its greatest asset lies hidden beneath the surface
of the sea. Here, the Atlantic Ocean meets the Irish Sea,
and the mingling of these waters provides the perfect setting
for one of the most dynamic, most productive ecosystems on our planet,
a forest of kelp,
and the one here on Rathlin is truly spectacular.
Just off its shores, this vast resource of seaweed provides
a nutrient-rich and protective habitat for marine life.
And though its value to wildlife is widely known, in recent years,
people have been exploring the potential health benefits
of this edible seaweed.
Keen to make the most of this growing market,
Kate Burns set up the UK's first kelp farm here on Rathlin in 2013.
Well, here we are, Kate,
on this beautiful rocky shoreline on a kelp hunt.
-Indeed we are.
-Why kelp? What's so special about kelp?
Well, kelp is a superfood
that we haven't really been eating much in the British Isles,
and it's only now that we're realising
A, how good it is for you, and B, what a great food product it makes.
So, what is so good about it?
Well, it's got more calcium and iron than any other vegetable.
It's high in protein and vitamin D, in roughage.
-It doesn't look very nice.
-No, it doesn't, actually,
and when we farm it, it's different,
-and you'll see that later on.
And also, how we cook it makes it very palatable indeed.
Kelp is very much a staple of Asian cuisine,
but Kate's taking a more European approach.
She's targeting gastronomes with her selection of
ready-to-eat kelp tagliatelle and pesto,
and although her crop grows out at sea, the work begins here on shore.
So, what exactly are we looking for?
Well, we're looking for a kelp which has spores on it,
and at the moment, we're looking for sugar kelp.
In the month of February,
it's the kind of kelp which is ready to release spores.
That's some sugar kelp there,
but it hasn't got any spores on it.
-Oh, right, so that's no good.
-Here's a piece here.
So, where are the spores, then?
Well, can you see that black, dark line down the middle of it?
-Like a spine going down.
-That's actually spores.
Out in the ocean, kelp reproduces naturally,
but Kate is taking a more hi-tech approach.
Hers is cultivated in a lab before being transferred out to sea
to grow into adult plants.
First, the spores collected on the beach are cut out and cleaned.
Then they're chilled for 24 hours before being
released into sterile seawater.
When they release, they become zooplankton for 24 hours,
and they have tails, and they're male and female, and they swim,
and they look for something to attach to,
and if they don't attach within 24 hours, they die.
So, you put string down for them?
There are spools of string in the lab, and after about 35 days,
they are one millimetre, two millimetres long,
and we transplant them to ropes at sea in our licensed kelp farm.
Why go to all that bother, though?
Why not just get it from the sea anyway?
Well, we can choose what species we want to grow.
Some are better for the market, for processing, than others.
We can be selective about the time of year we're growing them.
Also, kelp that grows in ropes isn't coarse
like the kelp you see round the beach. It grows in big sheets,
and that's better for processing and better for eating.
It's also more sustainable.
You're creating new habitat for invertebrates
and small fish under the water, feed stocks for sea birds.
So all those good reasons.
So, this sustainable vegetable of the ocean starts out in a lab,
gets planted out at sea and is then harvested.
But Kate's venture is just the latest in a long and beneficial
relationship between Rathlin and its kelp, as I'll be discovering later.
Northern Ireland has it all...
..and one of the best ways to experience them all
is the 600-mile circular Ulster Way footpath.
But in recent years,
the tourists are having to share it with an increasing number of TV
and film crews, who are drawn to this dramatic landscape.
Now, behind me is Dunluce Castle, but if you're a fan
of Game Of Thrones, you'd recognise it as Castle Pyke.
The castle is one of the many highlights on the Ulster Way.
70 years ago, whilst on a walking holiday in the Pennines,
Wilfrid Capper, Northern Ireland's very own Wainwright,
dreamt of this circular path around Ulster.
But hostile landowners and a lack of footpaths meant
it would be another three decades before his dream became a reality.
On the path is Ballintoy Harbour.
As a young man, Reg Magowan helped Capper create the route.
What was his personality like?
A very interesting guy.
I think you could say he was the first green man in Ireland.
He was a vegetarian, he preferred to use public transport,
he very much insisted that exercise was important,
and I guess it must have worked, because he lived till he was 93.
He must have been some wilful character.
It's very difficult to make progress on walks and so on, because
we have a lot of different landowners on the route,
but he would go out and often sit with a farmer and have a cup of tea
and come back with a permissive path agreement, which is quite something.
I mean, a man to walk the whole of the Ulster Way
when he was 88 takes some doing.
-Over 600 miles.
When he was 88, he did the whole thing?!
So that will give you an idea of the determination of the man.
How important is Wilfrid Capper to Northern Ireland?
Without him, we wouldn't have the Ulster Way, obviously,
but with the Ulster Way came many, many other paths,
many other walking routes,
and that has now developed into canoe trails in Northern Ireland
and mountain-biking trails,
so we can attribute a lot of that to Wilfrid Capper, I think.
On many a walker's wish list is a remarkable
33-mile stretch of the Ulster Way, across the top of Northern Ireland.
Now, the jewel in the crown of Capper's long-distance trek
is this, a two-day hike along the Causeway Coast Path,
taking in the Unesco-protected Giant's Causeway -
huge basalt volcanic pillars
that stretch from cliff top down to the sea.
It's such an incredibly special place.
It's so dramatic, with the waves lapping up around me.
It's a real wonder of nature
and so much fun to explore.
Once upon a time,
it was considered good luck to wedge coins into the rock.
I'm going to use these coins to wish good luck upon all the
walkers on the Ulster Way and also,
I hope that it gets a little bit warmer.
This plucky group of walkers is attempting to complete
the whole 600-mile circuit.
Oh, it's so spectacular, isn't it?
It's lovely, this. That's what we like about it.
This must be one of our favourite walks.
How much of the Ulster Way have you done?
We've done, in total, about 160 miles now.
The Ulster Way is made up of a lot of waymarked paths
scattered right round Northern Ireland,
and the Ulster Way, really, is linking up all those paths.
You would do about 10 to 12 miles at a stretch.
And can it get quite difficult?
Yes, the terrain can be difficult in places, making your way
through tussocks of grass and that kind of thing can be very difficult,
and quite a lot of it is not waymarked,
and you have to find your own way across, particularly, open ground.
Why do it? Why stay out in the freezing cold,
when it's lashing down with rain and do this?
People who have never been up at a height before don't
realise what the views are like, and it's really superb
when you get up there and you look around and people just say,
"Wow! Isn't that beautiful?
"I never thought it would be like that up here."
Sections of the Ulster Way, like the Mountains of Mourne,
can be challenging,
but this stretch, the Causeway Coast Path, is far more accessible.
Have you ever got lost?
Well...we wouldn't admit to that.
These ramblers have Wilfrid Capper to thank
for creating this beautiful route.
Later, I'll be meeting the people fighting to keep it open for all.
I'm on Rathlin, Northern Ireland's only inhabited offshore island.
Today, kelp is providing a fruitful 21st-century business opportunity.
But the seaweed along these wave-battered shores has long
played an important part in the island's economy.
the fortunes of this small community have been deeply entwined with the
natural resource that grows in such abundance in the waters around here.
But just as the tides change,
the value of kelp to the islanders has come and gone.
Back in the 18th and early 19th century,
Rathlin kelp was in high demand.
It was processed as a bleaching agent
for the thriving Irish linen industry,
but it had many other uses.
At the height of production,
this tiny island's population swelled to more than 1,000.
Jim McFaul was born and bred on the island.
He's taking me to the ruins of the kelp store,
a monument to what was a very tough way of life.
A group of families would have been allocated a certain
part of the shore to gather, and you didn't go anywhere else.
Now, that could have been on a very inaccessible place on the cliffs,
where you would have had to have gone down using ropes to climb down
onto the cliffs, but if that was the way it was,
that was the way it was.
Baskets, creels they called them, that had rope handles on them,
and they carried them
on their back to carry the kelp from the water line.
I heard my father saying that he remembered, in his young days,
their back would be raw from the saltwater off the wet seaweed
and the things rubbing against their back,
and that was the sort of work they had to do to survive.
They draped the entire kelp stocks over the wall to dry in the sun.
When they were completely dry, they burned them in the kilns.
Why did they burn it, then?
The reason they burned it was to concentrate it.
A ship came in and anchored in the bay,
and it was taken off to chemical factories.
Some of it was used for bleaching,
some of it was used for chemicals, like iodine.
In the 1830s, the kelp industry declined
when alternative chemicals came onto the market,
and Rathlin was also hit hard by the potato famine.
Between 1846 and 1850, roughly half of the population
emigrated to America, and numbers never recovered.
Around 100 years later,
a BBC documentary depicted a community under threat.
People still go, and through a glassless window,
you can see the discarded relics of the last family.
The question is, how long can a place live
if its people are drained away?
Numbers continued to decline and, just a few years ago,
only 75 people were left on the island.
Today, though, the picture looks very different.
There's now around 125 islanders,
and there is something of a baby boom.
-Who is this? This is Oscar. And?
-This is Darragh.
And how many altogether on the island now, little ones?
-There have been six babies born since 2014.
There was five born in the one year, in 2014,
and that was a real record for the island.
There had been nothing like that for more than 30 years.
And then a baby was born in 2015, and there is one more on the way.
The woman that owns this cafe is pregnant with her second child.
Were you born on the island?
No, myself and my husband Stephen, we moved here in 2009.
We actually both moved here from Dublin.
So, it was quite a dramatic change to move from a busy city life
-What brought you here?
We were ready for a change in lifestyle.
We were both academics in Dublin,
but it is really special to come home each day to Rathlin Island.
-Where you born on the island?
You're another newcomer.
Yeah, I am from Kildare in Ireland,
and I moved to Belfast some years ago, and we've just recently moved,
but we've been coming here for about 15 years.
I'm originally from County Down, and I've married an islander.
-What's the atmosphere on the island now?
-I think it is great.
There's a lot of community spirit, community events and things.
All the generations often get opportunities to be together,
and that is very special, living in a small community.
So, do you think the future of the island is now secure
because of all these little ones?
As secure as it can be, I suppose, but, yeah,
it definitely looks hopeful.
Small businesses are opening up and employment
and that seems to be, definitely, a lot more secure.
TRADITIONAL MUSIC PLAYS
There has always been a great sense of community on Rathlin,
with the echoes of the past never far away.
Today, that island spirit is as strong as ever.
It is intrinsically linked to its rugged landscape,
its weather and its natural resources.
Later, I'll be harvesting and sampling the kelp that's
playing a role in reviving Rathlin's fortunes.
CHEERING AND APPLAUSE
The days are drawing out.
Spring sunshine is driving out the morning chill.
And work on Adam's farm is picking up apace.
This spring sunshine is absolutely perfect for these ewes
and lambs that have been turned out onto the grass.
Fingers crossed it stays like it,
but we've still got lots of animals still in the sheds
that need special attention and, also,
I've got a new breed of pig turning up later.
So plenty to be getting on with.
Some of our sheep may have been put out on the fresh grass, but
the majority of the flock are still in the sheds waiting to give birth.
Their diet at this late stage of pregnancy is vital to the
health of the ewes and unborn lambs.
Lambing is well under way and it is going very well,
and, ideally, we want the ewes to have two lambs each,
and when farmers talk about the number of lambs
that ewes are having, they talk about it in percentages,
so if they were having one each, that would be 100% lambing.
If they were all having two each, that would be 200% lambing.
Ours is working about 185% at the moment,
so nearly two lambs per ewe, which is absolutely brilliant,
but when the ewes are carrying so many lambs inside them,
the nutrition is absolutely essential.
Thankfully, we made this really good-quality silage last summer,
which is full of energy and protein,
but we do still need to top these ewes up
with some high-protein sheep nuts,
and that's what I am going to do now.
And we work out how many sheep nuts to feed them
depending on the quality of the silage.
And these sheep nuts are full of protein and minerals and energy.
These are all singles. They've only got one lamb inside them,
so they don't need so much grub.
If we give them too much, the ewes will get too fat and the lambs
will be too big, and they will struggle to give birth to them.
We separate the ewes based on how many lambs they are carrying.
This way, we can tailor their diets to suit their condition.
These are twins and triplets in here,
and they need twice as much grub as the singles.
They don't care about me.
They'll just knock me over trying to get to their breakfast!
And they need more because of the multiple lambs inside them.
The lambs do about 75% of their growth
in the last five to six weeks of pregnancy.
In fact, there is a disease called twin lamb disease that affects ewes
that are giving birth to twins and triplets,
and if the nutrition isn't right, those lambs are drawing on all
the mother's resources, and it can make them ill and they can die.
So the nutrition has to be right, and if we get it right,
the ewes will lamb down in good condition themselves,
producing plenty of milk, and the lambs will be a perfect size.
At the moment, I think we are getting it just about spot-on.
The ewes are sharing the shed with our herd of pregnant nanny goats.
They've been politely waiting in the wings for their breakfast,
but I am being patient with them too.
When a goat gives birth, it is called kidding,
and all these nannies are supposed to have kidded by now.
We put the billies in in the autumn
and the nannies come into season ready to accept the billy
as the day lengths get shorter, but because we had such a mild,
warm autumn, we don't think the nannies came into season
when we expected them to, so, actually,
they all are supposed to have given birth, but none of them have.
They are looking pretty huge at the moment,
and I am expecting them any day.
Right, they can have their breakfast.
There you go, girls.
So, although these are all still expecting, there is one that
did give birth when I was hoping, and she is in a pen over there.
Well, here she is.
Goats are very similar to sheep in many ways.
They have the same gestation period,
they give birth to similar amounts of young,
they've both got two teats to feed them on.
The only difference, really, is that sheep are much hardier
because they have got a fleece that is full of grease
and they can cope with wet, cold weather,
whereas goats need a shelter, so they like being in the shed here.
And this nanny gave birth to twins.
One lovely little goat kid here.
That's a real corker.
But the twin was tiny, and we thought it was going to die,
so we had to tube it with colostrum,
the first milk that the nanny produces, and now we have got it
in a warmer pen out the back there, with lots of little triplet lambs.
We'll go and have a look at it.
So, in here, we've got two little pens with heat lamps on,
with lambs in.
This is where we have our triplet or quad lambs.
A ewe has only got two teats, so if she has more than two lambs,
she can't feed them all, so we rear the spares in here,
and this is where the little goat kid is.
And he is still quite small.
He is about half the size of his brother, but doing really well now.
Looking really healthy.
And usually, with these pet lambs,
we have to feed them during the day and the night.
We have got them on this automatic feeder, they have got some teats
in here, so they can suckle milk whenever they want.
It is fed by these tubes that come from this automatic feeder.
The powdered milk is in the top, it's mixed up with the water,
warmed up and then feeds straight through to them.
I will see if he wants to have a little suckle.
There we go.
Perfect. Goats are clever little creatures,
and he's really getting the hang of that, which is brilliant,
because it will save us a lot of time,
and at this time of year, we are always busy.
The ewes giving birth here are from the commercial flock
we keep on the farm but, as you know, rare breeds are my passion.
Today, pig farmer Chris Coe is bringing me a very special delivery.
Well, this is all quite exciting for me.
I've ordered some Berkshire pigs, but I haven't seen them yet.
-Hi, Adam. Nice to meet you.
-So, have you got me some nice ones?
-I do hope so.
-Shall we let them out?
Who have we got here, then, Chris?
-This is Henry.
He is 11 months old and raring to go.
-Is he friendly?
-Go on, then.
'Chris has one of the largest herds of Berkshire pigs in the country,
'and as well as Henry the boar...'
There we go. He's lovely.
'..she has also kindly sold me two pregnant gilts,
'young female pigs who are yet to have a litter...'
He's pleased to see you.
'..and a sow that has recently given birth to seven little piglets.'
Look at you with all your babies!
It's all a bit strange, isn't it? All a bit new.
Right, let's get them in the stable, shall we?
Come on, little piggies. Come on.
In you go with your mum.
Quite a different temperament to my Iron Age pigs.
Yeah, they are very, very calm
and they're great because even when they farrow,
you can be in with them, and they're absolutely, completely relaxed.
No problem whatsoever.
Having never had the breed before, it is very exciting to have them
on the farm, but take me through the finer points of a Berkshire.
What am I looking for?
Black coat all over, and then you've got six white points -
one on each foot, on the tip of the tail
and then just down the front of the face.
How much down the front of the face?
I see some of the piglets differ a bit.
Yes. It shouldn't be too much. You don't want their whole face covered.
It should just be, literally, across the top of the nose.
Not round the eyes. And not too much round the muzzle either.
And in stature, in comparison to the Tamworth
and the Gloucester Old Spot, quite a small pig.
They are. They're known as "the ladies' pig", actually.
They're great for someone my size
because you don't feel overpowered by them,
but it's their temperament which is what attracts you to them.
What about the Rare Breeds Survival Trust? Where are they on their list?
-Cos they're quite rare, aren't they?
-Yes, they are.
They are a vulnerable category.
There are only about 200 active sows in the whole of the country.
They're really lovely.
Well, thank you so much for bringing me such a lovely herd.
-It's great to get started in them.
Earlier, I began exploring the circular walk, the Ulster Way.
My journey has brought me to the
remote White Park Bay on the Antrim coast,
one of creator Wilfrid Capper's favourite spots.
Capper helped buy the bay for the nation 80 years ago.
Here, his path crosses the beach and dunes.
Footpaths bear the brunt of a lot of walking boots and weather,
and need care and attention to stay open.
But when there is more than 600 miles of it,
that's a lot of hard graft.
'The two-mile stretch of path across White Park Bay
'is maintained by a hardy team,
'led by National Trust warden Cliff Henry.'
Lovely to see you too.
Now, this is not a bad spot to be responsible for, is it?
It's beautiful, isn't it? Every day is different.
The weather is always different, so every day,
-it is beautiful in a different way.
-So, what is your involvement?
My job is area ranger, so I look after the site,
for its conservation, so I would manage any scrub clearance,
or any problems on site, I would be responsible for looking after that.
Why does it need scrub clearance?
Why can't you just let nature take its course?
There have been a number of issues with under-grazing
since the Trust took the site on, and this has led to brambles
and blackthorn just growing uncontrollably,
so now bramble and blackthorn cover nearly a third of the park.
We are trying to turn the clock back
and get it back to its pristine state.
Well, you've got another willing volunteer here, Cliff,
and I love burning stuff, so lead the way.
I'm off to help Cliff and the volunteer working party
clear the scrub on the slopes here.
80 years ago, when Capper fell for this place,
grazing farm animals would have kept the undergrowth in check.
Now the dominant blackthorn and brambles
smother all the other plants.
Cutting them back will allow the recorded 1,000 species
to re-emerge and thrive again.
What plants and species have you got here that you want to preserve?
We have 13 species of orchid on site here,
and some of those have only been seen once,
so they are very rare.
It is a hard job but it is very satisfying. Oh...
White Park Bay has four-legged volunteers, too,
roaming the beach and dunes.
These cattle are a vital weapon
in the battle to rid
the bay of pest plants.
Wonderfully easy to please,
they can tackle brambles and other unpalatable vegetation.
National Trust manager and livestock farmer Frank Devlin
keeps a close eye on the cattle.
Frank, I have seen it all now.
-Cows on the beach?
They are very at home on the beach, actually,
but you are just as likely to see them way up on the scree slopes.
What are they doing here? Is this their ground?
This is where they graze.
There's not too many of them here in the wintertime
because the vegetation is low and there is not too much feeding,
but in the summertime, the numbers increase.
What you've seen today, the guys out working with the chainsaws,
the strimmers, the tractors, is a short-term measure to try
and get all the scrub under control and at that stage, then,
we will allow the cattle to take their place
as a long-term measure for conservation.
What type of cows are they?
They must be a certain breed that can handle this sort of terrain?
These are young Angus cattle.
They are young because we have a bit of an issue here on site with ticks,
and the ticks on the site carry a parasite,
and the parasite attacks their red blood cells,
which can be very dangerous and actually fatal in some cases,
so the younger cattle are more resilient to that parasite.
-I can see you have got a soft spot for those cattle.
They are so at home here, and it works so well,
for both the National Trust and the livestock here.
They're getting a great habitat,
the tenant is getting the livestock outside,
good conditions to keep them in, less winter feeding,
and it's a win-win situation for both of us.
Thanks to the National Trust wardens and all their helpers,
this bay will again become the place that Wilfrid Capper knew and loved.
This year marks the 70th anniversary of one man's vision that has
left us this glorious, pristine bay
and the Ulster Way path that crosses it.
He's a local hero here in Northern Ireland, but I think you'll agree
his flash of inspiration deserves to be commemorated across the UK.
I mean, just look at it!
Today, we are exploring Northern Ireland
and while Anita is discovering the Ulster Way, I'm on Rathlin.
This small island lies just off the Antrim coast.
It has a rugged and beautiful shoreline, alive with wildlife.
The islanders have always been great sailors. They've had to be.
And along with farming, fishing has been a vital source of income here.
But today, in these waters, there is an intriguing new enterprise.
An underwater farm.
I'm joining fourth-generation fisherman Benji McFaul.
When he's not harvesting shellfish,
he turns his hand to a spot of aquaculture.
His family cultivate kelp plants in a lab on shore before fixing them
onto ropes to mature out at sea.
They've found conditions are good here for growing this sea vegetable
and now it is time to gather it in.
The temperature here tends not to fluctuate too much,
we've got quite consistent temperatures.
-That's good for growing kelp?
-It's good for growing kelp, yeah.
In the summertime, it will increase a bit but not by a wild lot.
The waters are quite cold round here,
and the kelp seem to thrive in colder waters.
How deep does it go?
When the rope is set at first, the rope is situated about seven feet
below the surface, but then, as the kelp starts to grow,
the rope becomes heavier and heavier, and the rope will sink.
It won't sink to the bottom but it will pull the floats down,
and whenever that happens,
that means the rope is ready for harvesting.
-But it's very sustainable, isn't it?
-Oh, it is totally sustainable.
We are not to do any harm to any wildlife.
In fact, you create a wee bit of a habitat while the stuff is going.
Wee shrimps and fish thrive and live within the kelp ropes.
Which do you prefer, getting lobsters and crabs, or kelp?
Ach, I like fishing for shellfish, you know?
But I don't mind doing this either. But it is more pleasurable
when the weather is a bit better, in the summer, like.
But, no, it's grand.
Once collected, the crop is taken back to the island.
There, it is made into foods like noodles and pesto.
And Kate Burns, Benji's mum and company founder,
is keen to show me how versatile and tasty this superfood can be.
So, we've got a little salad here.
Here, we've got kelp made with basil and garlic, into a pesto.
We have it mixed with creme fraiche with...
-One of Benji's lobsters.
-..one of Benji's lobsters, with kelp butter.
-And then we have it with noodles as well.
So we're just going to put some noodles...
In here, they're actually mixed with regular noodles.
You would normally cook the noodles for maybe two minutes.
-Just to soften them up?
-Just to soften them up a bit, yes.
-So, I'll just lift them out.
The kelp doesn't have much of a taste.
You will see when you try them now.
It just tastes vaguely of the sea. It is not strong, generally.
It is an ingredient.
It looks more like tagliatelle to me than noodles.
Well, we call it our tagliatelle cut.
I see what you mean about tasting of the sea.
-Yeah. It is a rather nice flavour, actually.
It is quite a subtle flavour. Not salty at all.
What do you see for the future of kelp?
-Is it just on this island?
Actually, I really think the British Isles are in a really sweet
place to be a major producer of farmed kelp.
We can't actually grow what we would like to here,
and that is actually because our sea is too rough.
And we'd be looking to other peripheral coastal communities,
communities that are struggling, where fishing is a challenge,
and help them start to grow kelp.
Well, I am going to take this back to the mainland to
a friend of mine, see what she makes of it.
-See if she can guess what this tagliatelle comes from.
Lovely to see you, Kate. And all the very best for your business.
Thank you very much.
It's great to see that kelp looks set to be an integral
part of Rathlin's future while, at the same time,
providing a fitting link to the island's past.
Hi, John. I'm the welcoming committee.
-Well, thank you. Lovely to see you again.
-How was it?
Fantastic little place, yeah. I really loved it there.
What about you? Welcome back to Countryfile,
-after all the glamour of Strictly.
-It's good to be back. I know.
I've got some sequins hidden under here somewhere.
Look, I've got you something from the island.
Ooh! Now, if this is the secret to being youthful like you, John...
Now, what do you think that is?
-Tagliatelle of some sort?
Oh, it's delicious.
Do you know what it is made from?
-Have some more.
-You can have the whole lot!
Well, that's it for this week.
Next week, Adam is going to be in Aberystwyth,
finding out what life is like for a young farmer.
-Until then, from Northern Ireland, goodbye.
-This is good stuff.
Countryfile explores the beauty of Northern Ireland.
John Craven finds out about Rathlin Island's growing kelp industry and what it's like living in this rural landscape.
Anita Rani meets a farmer who has diversified in an imaginative way - his farm animals are now TV stars. She walks part of the Ulster Way to find out about its passionate creator Wilfred Capper, and the conservation work happening along the route to keep the way open for all.
It's a busy time of year on Adam Henson's farm as spring arrives. He's got his hands full checking up on his pregnant goats and cows. Will there be any new arrivals?
Handling unpredictable livestock can be dangerous, especially when you have to get as close as farm vets do. Tom Heap investigates whether risk is just an unavoidable part of a vet's job or if more could be done to make farms a safer place to work.