Farm Ireland

Sunday 25 February 2018

I'm moving the cattle on faster to make the most of high prices

Relief: when silage is stored
Relief: when silage is stored
John Joyce

John Joyce

Despite all the advances in farm machinery, especially in the art of silage making, I still think it is a welcome relief when you see an ample amount of silage sitting in the yard for next year's feed.

All was conserved in the reasonable good weather we had in June. The grass looked in good condition before being cut with plenty of leaf and a healthy green colour.

The ground was just closed for seven weeks and was grazed twice before that and the fine weather came at the right time for harvesting.

We tried a few acres for hay in the middle of one field, but the grass was too heavy and green and with the weather deteriorating fast and thundery rain forecasted we decided to wrap it.

After measuring the quantity in the two yards I have decided that there is ample silage for the winter ahead. I don't think it will be necessary to take a second cut and I will need the after grass for grazing.

The topper is now well into its summer tour of the farm. But in fairness with grass a little tight on the farm the topping is more cosmetic with only the odd dock, thistle or strong grass around a cow pad to be cleared off.

The young stock are getting the first pick of the grass, followed by the cows and calves, then the topper.

There are many disadvantages with the suckler cow but one advantage is that she is great to clean out a paddock.

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I am using the field network of the farm as a paddock system. It works quite well and it is very handy to get the younger stock used to being moved about.

The remainder of the slurry has been spread on the silage stubble and should give the after grass a good boost.

Last year some of the slurry was left to the end of the year with limited results, so this year I made a bigger effort to spread as much as possible in the spring and summer.

It's funny - sometimes in farming one week you are looking for no rain so you can make silage, and a few days later seeking rain to wash in the slurry.

With the current high beef price I have again taken the opportunity to sell more beef heifers and a few culled cows. I was very happy with the results of the cull cows.


This year I have decided to keep moving cattle faster. I think as famers we sometimes get too fond of stock when prices are good or rising. On the other hand when the price starts to fall, some tend to panic sell or lose interest in the job.

I have a few more cows and bullocks earmarked for selling and will maybe introduce some meal on the grass to try and have them finished before the Autumn rush of cattle.

The calves will be soon be due their first worm dose. I will probably use a simple oral dose with the hook dosing gun.

This is the method I have tried for the last few years and it has worked quite well. It seems a bit of a chore to round up the cows and calves for dosing but it has great benefits when the calves are weaned next winter .

On the breeding side, I have noticed very few repeats to date but there have been a few cows that I haven't seen bulling yet. These may have been in heat some of the days we were busy at the silage when cows were only checked once a day.

I intend to leave the bull with the cows for a few more weeks. He may have lost a little bit of weight during the breeding season but is still fit and good on his feet.

The lambs are being weighed on a weekly basis, they are marketed and sold through the Offaly quality lamb producers group to Irish Country Meats in Camolin, Co Wexford.

I don't have them weaned yet, so that will be the next job.

I have applied a pour-on with a short withdrawal of eight days so it doesn't impact the sale of the lambs through the summer.

John Joyce, farms at Carrigahorig, Nenagh, Co Tipperary


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