Thursday 29 September 2016

Calves racing on sunny evening raises spirits

Published 12/09/2012 | 06:00

Calving is progressing well and relatively event-free at this stage, though I'm afraid to say too much just now in case I jinx it.

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As we tag the calves, we are also inserting the BVD tag and, so far, all those tests have come back clear. As we dehorn the calves we give them their first shot of Bovipast and we also give the cows their boluses and their booster shot for Lepto.

I actually think it would be better to be giving these boluses at weaning time, where they would cover the cows for calving and breeding, but, to do that, we need to make some readjustment to the cattle crushes, since the only crush we have that is wide enough for heavily pregnant cows is on the home farm.

I am delighted the way the cows have taken to using the footbath, which contains a copper sulphate solution. They all walk through it every morning in a nice orderly manner. I was just a little apprehensive when we set about doing this, as I couldn't help but think back to the time we had sheep and when they had to be put through a footbath they seemed to have the uncanny knack of putting their feet anywhere except in the actual bath itself.

I don't know if the footbath is doing the cows any good, but it certainly does me some good looking at them going through it, because it must be the one of the few things this year that has gone according to plan due to the weather.

We succeeded in harvesting all our spring barley and yield-wise it worked out at 2.25t/ac, which obviously leaves plenty of room for improvement next year. Since we were going to keep most of the barley, I got it tested. The moisture was 20pc and the protein 11.9pc.

We rolled and treated all but an artic load, which we sold. The product we used was Maxammon. The treated barley was then piled in a dry grain store and covered with plastic. This must remain in place for at least two weeks, at which time the barley is suitable for feeding.

The first corn we cut was a few weeks ago when the weather was still very unsettled and I was reluctant to leave the straw lying on the ground.

I thought it was pretty close to being ready to bale, so we baled some of it up. But a lot of the bales have heated quite badly.

So we will be in no rush to draw them in and we will earmark them to be used first.

We finally succeeded in baling the last of our hay a few weeks ago and we have quite a lot of it used at this stage. The last field we baled was saved in lovely conditions on a Saturday evening and, all things considered, I thought it was quite good hay. But such are the vagaries of this year, by Monday, we had to go on a rescue mission with the loader and try to save it from floodwaters due to the rain that fell overnight.

We recently sold half our weanling bulls. I find it's getting harder and harder to sell them at home. I suppose it's something we have to think about for next year, whether we go back to finishing them ourselves or maybe start taking them to the weanling sales.

Sales of the last of our two-year-old heifers are ongoing and hopefully they will all be gone in the next couple of weeks. The recent spell of sunny weather has brought a shine out on them that wasn't evident the whole summer.

Covers of grass seem to be building nicely for the autumn and thankfully the underfoot conditions have improved significantly. Nothing lifts the spirits as much as to see young calves racing around on a sunny evening.

Looking forward now to spending a day at the Ploughing. Hopefully the weather will hold up for them.

It's a great chance to catch up with people and it's important to spend some time away from the farm, all the more so in a difficult weather year like this.

Robin Talbot farms in partnership wife his mother, Pam, and wife, Ann, in Ballacolla, Co Laois

Indo Farming

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