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Sunday 11 December 2016

Breeding season stalled by the cold snap

John Joyce

Published 20/05/2015 | 02:30

Seeing the first swallow of summer is always great. Photo: Brian Farrell
Seeing the first swallow of summer is always great. Photo: Brian Farrell

Seeing the first swallow of the summer is always great. Last week one very wet morning I spotted two perched on a barbed wire fence besided the farmyard looking very unhappy with themselves.

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I hope their disappointment was with the weather and not the look of the farmyard, which will probably become their home for the next few months.

Despite the poor weather, I have found stock to be contented enough in the fields. I have had to split the closing of the silage to two dates as I had to graze half the ground for longer than I would have liked because of the poor growth. My main aim at the moment is to keep it closed and not have to return stock to it. If temperatures rise and growth improves I should manage that.

Glen, my Limousin stock bull, was introduced to the cows nearly three weeks ago. Cows are being observed twice a day and dates of heats are been recorded. I was considering using tail paint on the cows but just didn't get around to it - maybe I will try it next year. The recording of dates will help chart the progress of the breeding season, including repeats. If there are too many, it may spell a problem.

To date I must say there has been little activity even though the cows are on very good grass and are in fair condition. I blame the recent cold weather for the slow start to the breeding season. So the start of calving 2016 might be a bit slow.

The bull is in great condition and is also fit and lively on his feet. He has weathered the winter quite well.

Since turnout I have a fair bit of time and effort spent trying to get a good shock into the electric fence. I have replaced a lot of wire, stakes and insulators over the past two years. I think the fencer might be on its last legs. Of course it doesn't help when there is a small herd of wild deer knocking down electric fences themselves or frightening the cattle through them. These deer are causing a lot of damage to both crops and fences, as well as being a danger to road users in this area of north Tipperary and east Galway.

Mid-May usually means spending a few extra hours in the farm office dealing with paperwork and form filling. First was the Basic Payment application form to get ready. Next on the list was the application form for the new Beef Data and Genomics Programme.

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Most farmers are already are already practicing some of the requirements of the scheme, but others are nothing short of daft. For example, the requirement that one stock bull has to be 4 or 5 star on either the terminal or replacement index will cause difficulties for a lot of farmers.

On the sheep side, lambs are not thriving as well as they should. I will start weighing them from next week on and sell any of them that's fit on a weekly basis. This will leave more grass for the cattle as the calves and yearlings get bigger.

This week will also see the farmyard get a spring clean with the used farm plastic going for recycling.

John Joyce farms at Carrigahorig, outside Nenagh, Co Tipperary.

jjoyce@ independent.ie

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