Quality product is essential
The end of another year, completely different to the previous one. It began with a good start in spring when we had plenty of grass for ewes as they lambed and good weather to put them out.
Everything went downhill as we moved into April and more or less stayed that way for the remainder of the year.
One good thing happened when we re-housed our cows and calves in early May. We then made silage from the remaining grass that these cows had been grazing.
This has turned out to be very good and is being fed to the ewes now. It was baled on May 25 and is definitely the best we have for this year.
Selling lambs has also been a struggle all year as lambs were slow to finish off grass alone. The fact that prices were down by almost 50c/kg didn't help either.
Even though meal prices were up by at least €50/t there was no option but to feed all lambs before slaughter. The extra cost has left our margin very tight.
The big question now is whether the Irish sheep sector can achieve the 10pc target set out in Food Harvest 2020.
As with any industry, growth is important but it cannot be achieved at the expense of the farmer.