The recent rise in temperature has been a welcome relief. It should improve grass growth and get stock thriving again. Even though we are in June, the nights are still cool with a touch of grass frost.
Grass has been very slow to come back on anything that had been grazed very tightly during May. The meadows don't seem to have suffered as bad and have bulked up quite well.
We are still a week away from cutting the main crop of silage, as it was closed late due to the bad growing conditions in 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 one time and this could put the grazing ground under pressure as the farm is heavily stocked.
I have my own mower and try to cut the grass in the middle of the day when the sugars are highest and the grass at its driest. It is then left for 36 hours to wilt.
We have one shed with slurry in the tanks. I will try to have it agitated the day we are mowing, and spread it on the stubble as soon as the grass is picked up. Last year I was a bit slow with it and the after grass had started to grow. The topper has definitely not been too busy lately as I thought it would be too hard on the grass until the growth picked up a little.
Once the growth does take off and there is ample grass ahead of the animals, I will top or mow in the better fields after grazing to try and keep better quality grass in front of them.
Looking back on the winter, I was very happy with the liveweight gain and the kill out percentage of all the beef animals.
However I must admit a big effort was put into the feeding, winter parasite control and the feed used.
We transported all the animals ourselves to Ashbourne Meats Roscrea. I don't believe in hauling cattle long journeys for slaughter. A batch of heifers were sold two weeks ago and the last of the bulls were killed out of the shed three weeks ago.
Before any cattle go to the factory I have a good look at them and try judge the grades, fat score and weight. When I get back the kill sheet I compare notes. I think the kill sheet tells us a lot of information about the type of animal we should be breeding.
On the last batch of heifers there was a massive difference of over €300 between a light butty over-fat R= heifer and a heavy U+ heifer which collected a 36c bonus including the quality assurance bonus. All heifers were around the same age.
So maybe as beef farmers we have more information available to us than we think.
On the sheep side, we were busy shearing over the last weekend. I shear them myself which, if nothing else, keeps me fit.
I hope to attend the Sheep2015 event in Athenry on June 20. It should be an educational day out and it is also an STAP approved event. We could do with more of these events on the beef front - maybe they could be linked in with some of the summer shows?
John Joyce farms at Carrigahorig, Nenagh, Co Tipperary