John Fagan: Brazen thieves have made off with my quad bike

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Stock Picture
John Fagan

John Fagan

Look busy, the Chinese are coming.

It was great to see a Chinese delegation coming to visit our meat factories, and it's about time they realised the good value they can get from Irish lamb and beef. I wouldn't worry a thing about the protesters putting them off.

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We've nothing to hide here and maybe it's a good thing for prospective buyers to realise that the primary producer has to be treated fairly to ensure the quality and sustainability of the product they intend to purchase.

I would be delighted to host a delegation of Chinese meat buyers to visit my farm - and they are welcome on any farm for that matter.

Regarding the protests, it is true to say that the Government cannot directly interfere with the prices we receive from the market place, but the problem is they are not creating enough alternatives for farms to diversify.

Is there scope to bring back 100pc roll-over tax relief? This could allow farmers to liquidate assets in one farm business to re-invest in an alternative, more profitable farm business without facing a hefty tax bill.

This is just one example of a measure the Government can take to tackle the incomes crisis on farms.

Thieves

Meanwhile, I have had an eventful month here on the farm: my quad bike was stolen from my yard on August 13. The thieves came in through the fields and simply rolled it out.

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I had them on cameras, but CCTV was little use in identifying the culprits. There has been a spate of quad thefts taking place all around the country - it is out of control. Nothing is safe any more.

We need to catch these criminals. This is where farming communities can help each other out. Be vigilant, make sure you keep an eye out for anything unusual and for God's sake don't buy tools or quads off the side of the road! If it's too good to be true, then it generally is.

Lock up your stuff, and it's no harm to do a security check and perhaps even get some crime prevention advice.

Breeding season

We're busy getting ready for the breeding season here. I've condition scored the ewes, giving them the opportunity to recover from last year's lambs, and I will severely cull any ewes that are getting older or that gave trouble last March.

I regularly foot-bathe the entire flock and keep a close eye on the rams.

If you are buying rams, be sure to get 5-star rams, with a high Data Quality Index (DQI) -- above 60. I generally buy hogget rams on-farm from John Donohue and William Hutchinson in Kilkenny - two top breeders of hardy Texel, Suffolk and Charollais rams.

I plan to shear the ewe lambs this week. I find that shearing encourages them to thrive better and is also a good management practice as they tend not to get stuck on their backs next spring.

Shearing ewe lambs now is a must.

I've also organised to vaccinate the ewe lambs for enzootic abortion. You need to organise this vaccine well in advance as it's proving hard to get, and the sheep need to get it at least a month in advance of the breeding season. Get on to your vet for advice.

I've held off vaccinating the ewe lambs for toxoplasmosis. Firstly because I couldn't get it last year, and secondly because I reckon that the ewes generally develop immunity to this themselves. At least I hope I'm right. Also, it's cheaper to just have to do the one vaccine.

But certainly, the availability of the vaccine is hampering farmers from getting it done and therefore hampering their decisions.

I sowed fodder rape on the stubble ground and I'm slightly disappointed with how it's doing, I think I might have made a mistake in rolling the field after it was sown.

It will still be useful for feeding the ewes during the winter and save me the cost of having to house them too early.

The Brexit pantomime continues and it looks like Boris Johnson has completely lost the run of himself. The parliament no longer trusts him, he has no majority and he cannot call a general election. Either Johnson resigns or does a major U-turn.

A political 'guru' friend of mine is fairly sure that Brexit is not going to happen and predicts that there will be a national government in the UK tasked with either brokering a withdrawal deal with the EU or holding another referendum.

All this uncertainty has been hard on Irish business and farming. I am looking forward to when it's all over.

Indo Farming


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