Beef: A missed opportunity to cull some more cows
It is time to get the farm moving full steam ahead for another year. With the calving and lambing in sight I have decided to sell the best pen of beef bullocks.
It will make more room in the sheds, but my main reason for selling is that there seems to be no real improvement in beef prices and there is a risk of these cattle getting too heavy.
Overweight carcases are back on agenda again for some reason, along with talk of price penalties. There is no point in giving the factories cheaper meat than we are already doing.
But with continental-type cattle you sometimes need to put them into heavy weights to get the desired carcase finish and a decent pay cheque.
Slurry is now becoming a headache with the on-going rain and storms not giving the ground a chance to dry out.
The mild weather means the grass is growing and there is too much cover on some of my fields to spread slurry.
I will try to spread some on a dry rocky field this week and maybe pump some to a tank that is not as high.
That leaking drinking bowl in one shed that I never took the time to fix over the winter is coming back to haunt me now.
The majority of the cows are in great condition, apart from a handful including three old cows that are showing their age.
They should not have been let out to the bull. I think we make the mistake of not keeping enough replacements, especially when the cull cow price has been at a record high for the last number of years.
The other two cows lacking condition are second calvers and just need a couple kilos of meal between calving and turnout. All cows are still getting dry cow minerals dusted daily on the silage and will continue to so until they calve.
As a host farmer for Gurteen College, February 1 means the arrival of a new student on a three-month work placement. This year Eric Clancy from Meath is the new man on the farm.
The placement is a very important time in the student's education.
I try to encourage them to get the most out of their work experience and learn as many new skills as possible. I should also add that I never fail to learn something from them, and it is always interesting to have fresh eyes around the farmyard.
Looking at the bigger picture, our family farms play a much bigger role in rural Ireland than just producing food.
They provide educational and social platforms that are invaluable assets inside and outside farming communities.
Over the past year our farm has hosted ag students, Macra field evenings, discussion group meetings, Nuffield scholars, and of course friends of mine with young kids who call to feed the pet lambs.
All have added to the enjoyment that I get out of my work, and, in turn, I hope they have gained something from their farm visits.
John Joyce farms at Carrigahorig, Nenagh, Co Tipperary
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