My eight paddock system is going well so far but I find that it does require some extra work with smaller areas to top at more frequent intervals.
Farm income survey
Another year, another Teagasc National Farm Survey is published and once again we find that the Irish cattle farmer's Groundhog Day income nightmare goes on and on.
I have often wondered why we as cattle farmers don't take a leaf from our good friends in the dairy sector.
If their incomes dropped to even double what we earn they would be marching on the streets and I don't believe that anyone would blame them.
In relation to this year's figures I found it very interesting, leaving aside subsidies and direct payments, to look at actual earned income on our larger commercial-type cattle farms.
The survey shows that on larger 125 acre to 250 acre cattle farms all the average farmer receives for his/her year's labour is just €3,000.
The survey proves that without EU subsidies and direct payments, cattle farming in Ireland would quickly grind to a halt as our banks and other financial institutions would immediately pull the plug on such loss-making enterprises.
But why do cattle farmers do it year after year? Why do we simply accept these perpetually low incomes as our lot? Why do we keep our heads down and just carry on, while at the same time being obliged to listen to mantras about increased output and production targets?
My sympathies to a great extent lie with the many research staff diligently working away on our research farms.
They produce excellent data on the economic viability and practical application of various production systems, but much of this research lies unused for whatever reason.
It appears that our political mandarins are only interested in increasing agricultural output irrespective of the extra costs involved and the negative effect this may have on many cattle farmers' incomes.
All this in spite of the fact that the National Farm Survey figures show that year after year these 'aspirational policies' are simply not working as incomes on cattle farms continue to stagnate.
Why aren't our policy-makers focussed instead on making as many farms as possible, especially those in the larger acreages, viable?
This will not be done by driving them farther into loss-making practices, but rather by using commonsense measures aimed at increasing efficiencies and reducing cost structure, even if this may involve some reduction in output.
When these farms have moved back into a break-even or profit-making situation, then is the time to see if output can be increased, but only if it results in an increase in cattle farmers' net-profit margins.
John Heney farms in Kilfeakle, Co Tipperary