Soil sampling is the priority for this beef farmer before growing season
The slurry tanks are rising but I will wait for another week or two before venturing out to the fields. The fields that had been earmarked for slurry early in the spring had been grazed bare last autumn so will be perfect for spreading.
Always at this time of year I will do a quick stock take of the silage in the yard.
While there looks to be quite a bit of silage used, I'm not overly concerned as we are half-way through the winter and I can increase the meal level in time to beef animals and weanlings to slow down the silage usage.
One other job that I must do in January before we start spreading the slurry is to do some soil sampling.
It has been a few years since we did any major soil analysis and I think now would be a good time before the new grass-growing season starts.
I am more interested in the P and K levels of the silage fields and where lime is needed on the farm as the grazing ground seems to be growing a lot of grass.
Over the last few year I have generally broadcasted the farm with the same type of fertiliser, this way it will give me a better idea of what's needed and where.
Also, it might make better use of the slurry.
It will also give a great guide for the fields that have been earmarked for reseeding later in the year, as there is little point in going to the cost and extra work of reseeding if the nutrients levels are not correct.
In addition, there are some heavier fields at the bottom of the farm that might have a total different need requirement.
The soil sampling is another cost but the price of one ton of compound will go a long way in paying for what I intend to do. The investment should save money in the long term with more efficient use of fertiliser.
I have been busy attending knowledge transfer discussion group meeting, been part of both the beef and sheep groups there is always one just around the corner.
I attended two national events, one for each sectors. Both were Teagasc events and were well organised.
The beef event was on the suckler cow and explained the requirements with star rating for the beef genomics system.
In addition, there was an AI company on hand to explain different bull types and breeds and how farmers can match cows with bulls to produce top quality weanlings or to improve milk availability for future replacement heifers.
I still have to complete my profit monitor and get an animal health plan for the farm from my vet. Again, this seems like a bit of work but it is a great way of focusing the mind ahead of another busy year on the farm.
The groups are also a great way for farmers to interact and bounce ideas and problems off each other.
The suckler cows are now on their final approach to calving.
They are still on ad-lib silage with a special high iodine and double copper rate pre-calver mineral dusted on their silage daily.
These are the two main mineral deficiencies we have had on this farm over the years. They are getting about 50 grams per head per day.
We want calves that are hardy and lively at birth, and that get up and drink on their own within one hour of being born.
The cows are on slats but will be moved to the straw bedded calving pens about five days before calving.
John Joyce farms at Carrigahorig, Nenagh, Co Tipperary
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