I’m always excited by the idea of getting a new piece of equipment for the farm; some might describe it as like a child with a new toy.
Anything that saves on labour or time. It might be equipment or technology, and I am happy to invest.
I’ve decided to buy a cattle trimmers/clippers. I’m going for a battery-powered cordless one. It’s handier as it can be used anywhere without electricity and there is no cable getting in the way of both livestock and user, although the plug-in option would be cheaper and probable more powerful.
The clippers I went for is suitable for both cattle and sheep, so I can use it for dagging our sheep.
It comes with three lithium batteries with a running time of around one hour each. It is lightweight and is safe in all conditions.
The fresh smell of silage around the farmyard is a sure sign that the winter feeding season has begun.
I am housing the stock bit by bit as they start to run out of grass. The yearling males were housed last week and will be followed by their female comrades next week.
The cows and calves have another two or three weeks of grass ahead of them. I won’t leave them out too long to do any poaching as the ewes will finish up any butt of grass that is left before Christmas. It is designed and make in Wales by a Welsh shearing company so you hope the somebody with a back round in the shearing industry would have had a big input into the design and durability for the conditions of a working farm.
I will try limiting the lice problems in the sheds for the winter more naturally as there are a few more products no longer licensed.
The sheds are now well power-washed and I might have to take a few side sheets off for better ventilation.
Also when I am running the stock through the cute for their winter dose I will trim all of their tails. For the last few years I have also trimmed the backs of all the cattle. While this can sound like a big job, it is really very simple with the new clippers.
I was a bit apprehensive the first year, and did only one shed, but after that winter I was really sold on the idea. It seems to especially benefit the beef animal. The weanlings and the cows don’t seem to scratch or lick themselves for the rest of the winter with the addition of the lice spray.
It keeps the finished stock cleaner, and trimming the cows’ tails will keep them neater at calving, especially if they have to be handled or when the newborn calf is getting its first drink.
I put great emphasis on the winter dosing as there is little point in feeding expensive silage and meal and having good housing if the stock are not thriving because of a worm or lice problem. Parasite treatment always pays for itself in the long term.
On my daily journey around the farm I make a note of the few things that need fixing: a bit of fencing, hanging a gate or fixing a faulty light or leaking drinking trough. If these jobs are going to be done, it is between now and the start of the busy period next spring.
The big ‘but’ is that are very few people available to hire to do these small jobs any more. While there are many excellent contractors to do silage, slurry, hedge-cutting or anything to do with machinery, electricians and builders are very busy with house construction and the day of the handyman seems to be numbered.
Maybe theses handyman were not valued or paid enough for the skills they had.
I have noticed in the last few years that farmyards are starting to get a little untidy. In the big drive over the last 10 years to expand the agricultural industry, we’ve forgotten about the labour that was needed to do all this work.
Hiring someone to milk cows or drive tractors in one thing but finding someone with a range of skill-sets is not so easy. Maybe with the downturn in other sectors more people could be encouraged — maybe given financial incentives — to start working in agriculture.
John Joyce farms in Carrigahorig, Co Tipperary