Weather woes and tax bills will pose big challenges over the autumn
Published 28/09/2016 | 02:30
With the rain pouring down here, weather woes are becoming an increasingly bigger issue in Kerry and other western counties.
October grazing could be seriously challenged alongside a mounting pressure to house cattle. We really need a spell of drier weather. It's hard to believe that some areas had experienced dry to drought conditions in August, as they haven't been seen here where 90mls of rain has fallen in the three weeks to September 21, bringing our annual rainfall to 976ml. Enough said.
However, having visited the ploughing and having seen the squelch of mud visible even on the Tuesday, I think many appreciate that ground conditions aren't as desirable as they could be for September.
The challenges ahead are extending the grazing rotation and getting slurry out. On the other hand, grass growth has remained strong, especially on farms where dry conditions were limiting growth. The rain brings on a lush green growth, but even on our ground, grass growth for September has averaged at 65kgDM/ha/day for the last three weeks.
So extending the rotation and building up pasture hasn't posed a massive uphill challenge. As long as the rotation length, in terms of the area grazed, by now has exceeded 35 days (1/35th), generally you should be in or around target for pasture cover. If not, a small increase in supplementary feeding may be all that's needed.
At this stage in the season, especially with wetter conditions, the 12-hour wire for grazing should be in daily practice. The next obvious step if wet conditions continue is on and off grazing using sheds and roadways as stand-off areas.
The autumn and winter months often provide the opportunity to do maintenance jobs and to make capital investments around the farm.
The Ploughing coincides nicely with these thoughts as the farmer can peruse isles of stalls selling machinery and services. Although there seems to be some hints of improvement to milk prices, these haven't yet been significant enough to ease cash-flow pressures.