Farm Ireland

Saturday 25 November 2017

Knowledge transfer groups well worth the effort


Richard Morris, gets to grips with his winner of the Kerry Heifer Under 2 category, at the Glencar
Cattle Show & Carnival, Co Kerry. Photo: Valerie O'Sullivan
Richard Morris, gets to grips with his winner of the Kerry Heifer Under 2 category, at the Glencar Cattle Show & Carnival, Co Kerry. Photo: Valerie O'Sullivan
John Joyce

John Joyce

We are still cutting the last of our silage. Some of it was closed late due to the bad growing conditions in April and early May. As we make all round bale silage, we can cut the grass in stages whenever it is fit.

Bales may be a little more expensive and a lot more work, but there is no waste. With a pit I would have to close all the ground at the same time and this could put the grazing ground under pressure as the farm is heavily stocked at this time of year.

I have my own mower and try to cut the grass in the middle of the day when the grass sugars are at their highest and the grass at its driest. It is then left for 36 hours to wilt before baling and we try and stack them as soon as possible before the crows come. One shed still has slurry in it, so the plan is to have it agitated and spread it on the silage stubble when we cut the last field.

I think you get better results this time of the year than waiting till the end of the year.

The topper is also on its summer tour of the farm. But with the farm heavily stocked, topping is more cosmetic with only the odd dock, thistle or strong grass around a cow pad to be cleared off.

The young stock and the sheep are getting the grass at the front of the rotation with the suckler cows last, then the topper. There are many disadvantages with the suckler cow, but one advantage is that she is great to clean out a paddock.

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

The calves will soon be due their first worm dose. I will probably use a simple oral dose with the hook dosing gun. Maybe the Genomics tags will have landed in the post before I start dosing them.

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That way I could do the two jobs together. It would be great if the second tag that we use to register the calves could be used as the notch tag for the Beef Genomics scheme.

Carbon navigator

Speaking of schemes, I have put in an application for both the Beef and Sheep Knowledge Transfer discussion groups programmes.

There is a bit of work with it as there are five group meetings in each programme, plus a Carbon Navigator to complete by the end of November along with an animal health plan with an approved vet. But everybody in the group makes an effort, and a lot can be learned by the sharing of knowledge by farmers. There is also the social elements to the group as it gets farmer off their farm for a few hours and thinking differently.

The last few beef bulls are still in the shed and I have been selling them in small numbers every fortnight.

They are not killing out as heavily as last year, but I am still happy with them. As we transport all of our cattle it gives us the option to draft them in smaller numbers as they become fit.

All our beef cattle are sold to Ashbourne Meats in Roscrea. I don't believe in hauling cattle long distance to slaughter so it suits us to sell and deliver in smaller numbers. The only downside to the bulls at this time of the year is it feels like it prolonged the winter feed period. But still 15 minutes can take care of giving them their meal and straw.

On the sheep side of the farm, the shearing is all done. The wool price is disappointing and just shows how low in price some of our produce has fallen to.

I have applied 30ml of ectofly to the lambs in the form of a pour-on as a preventive for blow fly. Lambs are being weighed and drafted on a weekly bases.

They are marketed through the Offaly Quality Producer group and are sold to ICM Camolin in Co Wexford. I'm aiming to try to sell as many as possible before weaning.

John Joyce farms at Carrigahorig, Nenagh, Co Tipperary

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