Farm Ireland

Friday 14 December 2018

It's organised chaos with slurry spreading, calving and lambing all looming large

John Joyce
John Joyce
Patricia Cogan from Co Sligo with her two horses at the ploughing match at Ballyloo, near Nurney, Co Carlow last weekend. Photo Roger Jones.
John Joyce

John Joyce

Last week we took 11 soil samples around different parts of the farm. It has been six or seven years since we did this job apart from sampling a field that was lined up to be reseeded.

It will be interesting to see did the fertility of the farm rise or fall since the last results. The results will also indicate the level of lime required, if any.

With the farm having two very different types of soil, one being limestone ground and the other a heavy peat soil, I have always tried to use different compounds on the different types of ground.

Most of the land is also spread with either slurry or dung. The dung is being spread on the poorer peaty soil. I would be contented if most of that ground scores a level three in the fertility tests.

I am concerned that the silage ground could be a little low in potash or phosphorus as there have been some large cuts of silage taken off it in the last number of years.

No slurry or fertiliser has been spread on the ground for the last four months so the tests should give some accurate readings.

With fertiliser prices rising again there must be greater awareness of the type and quantity needed.

On the silage reserves side of the farm, it is turning out to be the 'perfect storm' between saturated ground, poor weather and diminishing feed supplies

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And that's not to mention rising meal prices and falling beef prices.

I have decided to up the rate of meal and to purchase silage early in cases it gets any scarcer.

The slurry will definitely have to go out with the next window in the weather. It is just a matter of taking a few loads out now and again to keep it moving. At least when the weather finally dries up I will have loads of bare ground to spread it on.

Most of the preparation for the calving is now complete. This includes the shed, straw and a lot of the small items like new calf tags, 10pc iodine for the navel, long gloves etc.

I have also purchased a spare set of ropes for the calving jack as one can be easily lost on a busy day around calving time. A few cows need replacement tags so I must order these now so I can tag these cows before they leave the shed for the summer.


Our new student is Aaron Hickey from Limerick who is studying in Pallaskenry Agricultural College and he is starting his 12-week placement on the farm this week.

It is a great experience for these young students starting off in their farming careers. I also pick up a few new ideas from the students too and at this time of year the extra pair of hands and the company around the farmyard is welcome.

On the sheep side of the fence, the ewes are about 10 days out from lambing.

They are on a 20pc protein ewe and lamb ration with good quality silage.

I have upped the protein content from 18pc to a 20pc protein for the past few years and find it boosts the quality of milk available to the lambs.

With shed space at a premium this year, I hope the weather turns for the better for an early turnout of the ewes and lambs.

I will probably look into the TAMS II funding over the summer in a bid to improve housing going forward.

Even though this is a very busy time of the year, it is also my favourite.

I really enjoy the busy times on the farm and try to look beyond the next wet day. It's one way of dealing with stress.

The phrase 'organised chaos'' is used to describe the activities on the streets of China's bigger cities and it's a little like that our farmyard right now, but I hope I have everything under control.

John Joyce farms at Carrigahorig, Nenagh, Co Tipperary

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