John Heney: Legacy of last winter still being felt
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.
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.