Great late flush of grass, despite onset of winter nights
Now that the clocks have gone back and winter has officially arrived, I'm probably not alone in my dislike for the shortening days and dark November evenings. The transition has been more obvious this year than others as we have just come to the end of a spell of uniquely mild weather.
A combination of increasing moisture and unusually mild weather has enveloped Ireland in an unseasonable late October mantle of rich green, with most trees also managing to retain their green foliage.
This extended growing season was most welcome and it has certainly compensated in some way for the harsh weather last spring. However it appears to have had very little effect on the performance of my older cattle because the feeding value of this late grass has been most disappointing.
Coming after 2012, which had a brilliant spring and, in my case, a good growing summer, 2013 was always going to struggle to repeat the performance. No one could have foreseen this year's disastrous spring; the stark reality for me was that after three of the best thriving months were taken out of the year, my cattle were always going to be in trouble.
In farming there are always going to be ups and downs and I was lucky that last autumn my stores were about 15kg heavier than they would usually be.
Speaking of issues which affect farming, I was delighted to see that the long overdue environmental analysis of the Food Harvest 2020 Report has made an appearance in the form of a discussion document. However on closer examination, there are several things about the publishing of this report which are quite peculiar.
I'm sure its release the day before the start of the high profile National Ploughing Championships was not deliberate. Unfortunately, the timing did succeed in rendering this critically important public document virtually invisible.