Farm Ireland
Independent.ie

Tuesday 11 December 2018

Robin Talbot: There will be no second cut for us this year

Robin Talbot, Beef Farmer, at the Ploughing Championships.
Robin Talbot, Beef Farmer, at the Ploughing Championships.
Mike Collins of Carbery Farm Rosscarbery Co Cork with Carbery Mercury the overall Limousin champion of Barryroe Agriculture Show. Picture Denis Boyle

Robin Talbot

I think everything that can be said about the weather over the past few months has already been said, but someone on Twitter summed it up best when they commented: "Jaysus, this is the coldest, wettest, driest, hottest, ever."

Our water supplies have held up well.

The only malfunction we've had was with a pump on an outfarm, where the source of the water is a river. The river has gone so low that the water has silted up and stopped the water flowing.

It was at the peak of the high temperatures (so far) and, while the problem was sorted in less than a day, the particular group of affected cattle seemed to be almost delirious with the thirst.

But, as soon as the water started to flow, they settled quickly.

In terms of grass, we are lucky that this is not a peak time for demand.

The weaned bulls and heifers are grazing burnt-up pastures at the moment.

We are trying to keep what little bit of grass that we have in front of the bulls.

Also Read


We would not usually feed meals to them at grass but I think we will have to start doing so shortly, as they will soon have finished grazing what should have been our second cut silage.

The bulls are not a bit happy grazing the second-cut silage and I think that is because there is so much dust around that it is contaminating the grass.

It is obvious at this stage, regardless of when the weather turns, and it will turn, that we won't be taking any second-cut silage.

Any grass that we can grow from here on in will be wanted for the cows rearing young calves.

We tried to do a fairly accurate measurement of our silage stocks last week. Going on the assumption of a 140-day winter, we will have to cut back the suckler cows' diet by 10kg of silage per head per day over the winter.

Normally, we would give them about 34kg of good quality first-cut silage. So we are looking at around 25kg and we will make up the difference with extra straw and cereal, both of which, luckily, we will have.

We have nothing done with the suckler cows as regards batching them by calving date or vaccinating them (which we usually would have done at this stage, as they are due to start calving from August 1).

That is because I think it is just too hot at the moment and would be too stressful on man and beast to have them in around the yard at the moment.

But, I suppose on the plus side, they all seem very content on the bare dry fields.

As calving gets closer, we are just going to have to go sort them, whether we like it or not.

The in-calf heifers, who will be the first to calve, have been vaccinated with Rotovac, and are in a paddock getting a bale of hay every day.

As soon as we get the cows batched, the earliest batch will go into the paddock with the heifers. Then we will open our small pit of dry first-cut silage that was always intended for this purpose.

I felt that, if we opened it for the heifers, we wouldn't be using enough of it on a daily basis and it would probably have started to heat.

We have our winter barley cut. While a good bit of it is tipped in the sheds, it looks like it has done around 3.5t per acre, maybe a little more, but not much.

The dry weather came a month too soon for it.

It is noticeable in the heap that the grain is only average quality but it is almost white, rather than the traditional gold. The straw is likewise almost bleached white.

We baled the straw in 4x4x8 big bales and, this year. We are averaging about 4.8 bales per acre, whereas last year it was about 4.2 bales per acre; but 2017 was a particularly bad year for our cereal enterprise.

We are in the process of erecting a shed for our straw.

Up to now, we would have stored a lot of straw under plastic, which didn't always work out well.

Since we will have to feed a lot more straw to the cows, it would be better stored under a roof.

There are so many convenient ways now to store grain that this year offers the ideal opportunity for dairy and livestock farmers to source Irish grain farm-to-farm. There isn't a better feed around than native cereals.

Robin Talbot farms in partnership with his mother Pam and wife Ann in Ballacolla, Co Laois.

Indo Farming

Get the latest news from the FarmIreland team 3 times a week.





More in Beef