Farm Ireland
Independent.ie

Monday 5 December 2016

Lucky to be above water beside the Shannon

John Joyce

Published 13/01/2016 | 02:30

The River Shannon has flooded land in many counties including here in Banagher, Co Offaly. Photo credit: Niall Carson/PA Wire
The River Shannon has flooded land in many counties including here in Banagher, Co Offaly. Photo credit: Niall Carson/PA Wire

While the recent flooding has not affected the farmyard, it has left one field underwater and the rest of the farm very saturated.

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One farmyard is only 500m from the river Shannon but the sheds are on high ground and it would take the river to rise another four or five feet to cause problems for the slatted shed. But anything is possible with this weather.

The slurry situation is under control with the highest tank about 18 inches from the top. All tanks are rising rapidly and the biggest problem is where to go with it when the tanks are full. Fields are either too wet or have way too much grass with the recent mild weather.

All efforts were made to keep yard water out of the tanks, but one downpipe turned the wrong way for one of the nights with heavy rain didn't help.

The hardship that some farmers have endured with the floods just reinforces the need for a fair price for their produce.

When the land eventually dries up, I will earmark a number of fields for spreading and will try to use the valuable nutrients as best I can.

In the spring I will spread the slurry at the rate of 2,000 gallons per acre and should get good results if the spring stays mild.

Last year I changed the slurry tank when I purchased a 2,100 gallon tank with the big recessed wheels. It should be suitable for this wetter. The old tank had Russian-style wheels that left little ridges in the fields, which would take a while to disappear.

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The farm is in more or less slumber mode at the moment.

It is very hard to get much more than the feeding and the yard jobs done on a daily basis with all the bad weather. This will change pretty quickly over the next three weeks when the farm will go from ticking over to full throttle during lambing and calving.

At this time of the year I usually do a stock take of the feed left in the yard.

I estimate that I have only used about one third of the silage so far, even though we have more stock on the farm than other winters.

I am assuming that later housing of the stock and good quality, dry silage are the reasons we have used so little feed the farm to date. So there should be ample silage left even if the spring remains wet or gets harsh.

I always include a good quality pre-calver mineral in the diet of the dry suckler cow at this time of year. I use a special high iodine mix with double the normal rate of copper. These are the two minerals that caused problems on the farm a few years ago.

I feed 50g per head per day. As the cows are on ad lib silage, the minerals are dusted on the silage from about eight weeks before the first cow is due to calve.

The weanlings are doing well and are on 1kg of meal per day. We have had no issue with pneumonia this year but they are still being watched closely. Some of the lighter stores are on 2kg of meal per day. It is just a simple 14pc protein ration, with the rest of the cattle on aid-lib silage. The beef cattle are on 4kg twice a day.

The lambing is still a good three weeks away. All of the ewes were housed before Christmas with fields of grass spared around the farmyard for when they lamb.

They with be turned out five days after lambing, weather permitting. At the moment they are getting 0.5kg per head per day of a ewe and lamb ration. It is a 18pc protein mix with a high inclusion rate of oats.

John Joyce farms at Carrigahorig, Nenagh, Co Tipperary

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