Farm Ireland
Independent.ie

Friday 22 September 2017

John Heney: Legacy of last winter still being felt

Pictured at the launch of the Animal Health Ireland (AHI) animal health conference titled Animal Health - 'The Cornerstone of Sustainable and Profitable Farming' were: Mike Magan, chairman of AHI; the Minister for Agriculture, Simon Coveney; Dr Noel Cawley, chairman of Teagasc; Joe O'Flaherty, CEO AHI; and Donal Lynch, president of Veterinary Ireland. The conference is scheduled to take place in Rochestown Park Hotel, Cork on October 23
Pictured at the launch of the Animal Health Ireland (AHI) animal health conference titled Animal Health - 'The Cornerstone of Sustainable and Profitable Farming' were: Mike Magan, chairman of AHI; the Minister for Agriculture, Simon Coveney; Dr Noel Cawley, chairman of Teagasc; Joe O'Flaherty, CEO AHI; and Donal Lynch, president of Veterinary Ireland. The conference is scheduled to take place in Rochestown Park Hotel, Cork on October 23

John Heney

Even as we make our way through what is turning out to be a very hot Irish summer, we are still reminded of the horrors of last year's weather.

Whether it is the deep tracks which, as they harden out, make tractor work very uncomfortable, or the ongoing effort of trying to build up a good supply of winter fodder – while at the same time ensuring enough grass for summer grazing – the reminders are there.

In relation to the current heatwave, this is something we only appear to enjoy about once every decade. We are unique in Ireland in so far as we can enjoy it and still retain our lush green landscape principally because our heatwaves don't last that long. It's amazing, however, how they bring back memories of glorious summers experienced in our youth when we had far more time to enjoy them.

As far as my grass supply is concerned, I'm still finding it quite tight. However, I was lucky to get some cattle onto aftergrass towards the end of June. This was a field which I then stopped for a second cut of silage. I find that grazing aftergrass early promotes a much better sward. I have also stopped off some grazed ground for silage so I'm looking forward to seeing which does best.

At this stage I have finished grazing all of the first-cut silage fields and this has greatly helped my grass supply situation. Cattle appear to be thriving well, but I continue to be disappointed with my lighter cattle who are still showing some ill effects from the disastrous spring.

Legacy

Another result of the poor spring was that it was nearly the end of June before I got the last of my summer stores brought in. Once again, the legacy of last winter is being felt at the marts. Light cattle are not selling well, although bullocks with enough weight and condition to finish later this autumn are making much better prices.

This would appear to reflect ongoing concerns about fodder supplies next winter. As it turned out, I bought a mixture of both types of bullocks so it should also be interesting to see how they fare out.

Also Read


Again, probably as a result of the late spring, it is only in the last few weeks that I began topping paddocks. Whereas I would usually top my farm three times, this year with the late spring and slow growth I will probably top most fields just once.

I changed to an offset topper a few years ago and I must say that the satisfaction of seeing nice, clean fields rather than the tracking left after the old rear-mounted topper made the investment seem well worthwhile.

There has been lots of discussion recently about the outcome of the CAP agreement; I must confess that I still don't know what the bottom line will be. It would be nice to know how much the reforms will actually cost.

It seems years since we first attended meetings on the current CAP reform measures. Farmers were encouraged at that time to send in submissions on what they felt should be done. We sent them in, but, regrettably, that was the last we ever heard of them.

Fast forward to now and even though our minister seems to have fought the good fight I'm afraid I am still in the dark.

The relatively small cuts that the minister spoke of when the agreement was first announced appear to be growing deeper and deeper with every newspaper article we read. However, the bottom line appears to be that it's only now the real negotiations begin as the main farming lobby groups prepare to fight it out for their own members.

The much vaunted rural solidarity which we have heard so much about down through the years appears to be the first casualty as positions appear to have become very polarised.

All the parties involved would do well to remember that at the end of the day there is a huge interdependence between most farming enterprises in Ireland and a little bit of forward thinking might not go astray.

Finally, many thanks to ESB Networks for relocating their large pole-mounted switch gear to a far less conspicuous site on my farm.

Its removal from the local skyline is much appreciated.

John Heney farms at Kilfeacle, Co Tipperary

Indo Farming