Farm Ireland

Sunday 18 February 2018

John Joyce: We're making hay while the sun shines

Alan Dolan from Kilrickle, Co Galway was making the best of the good weather to mow silage over the weekend
Alan Dolan from Kilrickle, Co Galway was making the best of the good weather to mow silage over the weekend
John Joyce

John Joyce

Last week the farm looked like somebody did a bad job spraying it off with Round-up as patches in most fields got badly baked in the recent spell of good weather.

The rain arrived just in time with 20 units of Sulph-CAN applied on all the grazing ground as grass was getting extremely tight.

It still remains to be seen whether this rain will be enough to reactivate the growth to meet the requirements of the cows and calves.

The calves are now three to four months of age and are making themselves known with the grass they are eating. There was no point in spreading fertiliser until the rain arrived and lets hope it returns to good weather – albeit not as hot.

More silage was harvested in the last few weeks and we also took the opportunity to save hay for the first time in seven years. With temperatures in the high 20s, it was hard to pass up the opportunity to make hay, especially with a meadow suited for the job.

The hay was only down for five days. It was cut on day one; then turned twice a day for the next three days and round baled on the fifth day. Eighty bales were collected from the field and it is probably the best hay the farm has ever saved.

The hay was left out for seven days before being stacked in the shed. It will be used in the calving shed next spring and for a pen or two of fattish cows before calving. But because of its excellent quality, it should hold for use for a second year.

A simple calculation shows the farm has ample silage now saved for a 20-week winter, this will be in addition to grain and about 200 round bales of spring barley straw to be harvested in about three weeks time.

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The straw should be of excellent quality, with low disease levels because of a relatively dry growing season.

This in turn should make it ideal for mixing with this year's high DMD silage, which is probably too good for suckler cows in the dry period.

With some of the second cut melting into the ground, I decided to graze most of it.

As I said earlier, I should have enough for a 20-week winter, so hopefully this will be a real winter and not a repeat of last year.

Two cows that went wrong at calving time have now become factory fit.

So last week, fearing that summer mastitis could become a problem with them, I decided to phone my factory agent only to be told that cows had dropped 50c/kg since I sold last about 10 weeks ago.

Deciding to hold tough and wait for another couple of weeks, I was disappointed with the way factories have succeeded in driving down prices and talking down the trade.

The traditional fair day of the 1960s was the first step towards developing a multi-million euro livestock industry.

However, it is now controlled by the meat factory bosses. This is why I am fearful for our Food Harvest 2020 targets for the beef sector.

Over the last number of weeks, I have spent catching up on the dosing programme and replacing a few missing tags in the cows.

I also used the good weather to complete some general maintenance around the place.

On the Macra side, I would encourage our younger readers to get involved with a local branch, there is an array of activities in which to get involved.

John Joyce farms at Carrigahorig, Nenagh, Co Tipperary, and is agricultural affairs chairman with Macra na Feirme.

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