Welcome surge in grass growth
Published 03/08/2010 | 05:00
Rain in Ireland generally gets a bad press as it is usually portrayed as something to avoid. As farmers, we are well aware that rain is a vital necessity for the growing of food.
It's amazing, however, how difficult it can be to explain this to some non-farming people, whose dream of a permanent Mediterranean climate here in Ireland has just been shattered by the recent torrential downpours.
As the moist and mild spell continues into another week, there appears to be a good possibility that the surge in growth will compensate for the poor grass performance earlier in the year.
At the moment I am in the process of stopping-off some ground for a second cut of silage to top-up my somewhat disappointing first cut. The use of after-grass to supplement my grass supply has also relieved a lot of my grazing problems. These infrequent droughts do, however, serve to put into focus the amazing competitive advantage we enjoy in Ireland in comparison to farmers in warmer, drier countries where droughts are a grim reality.
So how have these recent difficulties affected my cattle? I usually start selling around the end of July, but this year I'm not so sure. I've heard mixed reports of kill-out performance from people who have already sold cattle. Some appear to be quite pleased with their returns, while others feel their cattle could have perhaps done with another few weeks on grass.
There is one way to really find out, so yesterday I culled out a half-load of what seemed to be fairly OK Friesian bullocks, and they are booked in to the factory for next week.
As this will be my first time selling cattle under the new quality payment scheme (QPS), I'll be a much wiser man in a week's time when I get my returns from the factory.
While the fine weather in June may have caused some difficulties with grass, it did provide me with an ideal opportunity to get a large pond cleaned out on my farm.