Farm Ireland

Saturday 21 July 2018

Discussion groups won't work unless they are farmer-friendly


Photo O'Gorman Photography.
Photo O'Gorman Photography.
John Joyce

John Joyce

It is hard to believe that there is another winter just around the corner. We have an estimated one month of grass ahead of the cattle and cows.

In a bid to utilise the grass as best I could, all the wetter areas of the farm have now been grazed before they become too wet.

Any grass that grows or remains in these fields can be grazed by the ewes later in the year. This year I've found that stock are quite content and are cleaning out fields very well.

If the weather did improve for October it would make a big difference in keeping out stock longer.

After some recent rain I'm glad that I had all the slurry tanks emptied and spread earlier in the year. The sheds are ready if any stock needs to be housed in a hurry.

This year I have decided to either remove or leave opened every second gate in the slatted house to give the suckler cows more room to walk around and have space to exercise themselves coming nearer to calving.

For the last number of years they have been penned in lots of eight, so for this winter I will see if it makes any difference. If nothing else, it should keep the slats cleaner.

I have no plans to wean any of the weanlings yet. The cows are in good condition and are not under pressure.

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Some of the weanlings are still quite young and need a few more weeks on their mothers. The weanlings were dosed two weeks ago with another lungworm dose. This was their second dose of the summer; with very little coughing now, the dose should pay dividends later when weaning and housing.

Some of them are being creep -fed, where the cows are tighter on grass.

The weekend after the Ploughing has always been my due date for putting out the high-mag buckets for the suckler cows for the autumn grazing to combat grass tetany. It is a cheap and easy way which seems to work on this farm.

The buckets have 12pc magnesium content and I have placed a number of them in the fields where the cows are grazing. Maybe placing a bale of hay or straw in a ring feeder might help, but I will not be doing this in the good fields that have been reseeded in the last number of years.

The season, for Year 2 of the BTAP and STAP discussion group, meetings are now beginning to kick off again.

While I have decided to stay in the programmes, I have voiced my opinion on a number of points related to the schemes.

If the Department of Agriculture wants these schemes to be successful then they need to make them as farmer-friendly as possible.

One disappointing criterion is the need to have a minimum turnout of farmers at a meeting in order for the meeting to qualify.

Most members are genuinely doing their best to show up for meetings. This only adds to the pressure on the facilitator.

Like last year, I intend to attend one national event that will qualify for a meeting. These meetings are well run, and some provide great information on interesting topics.

These are listed on the Department's website and are well worth a visit.

On the sheep side of the farm, the six rams are busy with the ewes at breeding time, so the plan is to disturb them as little as possible.

All the remaining lambs are now getting meal in a bid to finish them sooner and increase kill-out percentages.

On a personal note, as a 2016 Nuffield scholar, I presented my report at the Nuffield conference recently.

It has been a fascinating experience over the past two years. I have visited 11 countries as part of the programme including China, the Philippines and the USA.

It has given me an excellent insight into world agriculture, and I have met people in different parts of the industry.

Part of the programme is personal development and promoting positive change within the industry.

I would encourage anybody interested in the programme to head along to the conference and talk to some of the other scholars.

John Joyce farms at Carrigahorig, Nenagh, Co Tipperary

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