Farm Ireland

Thursday 14 December 2017

'Our building plans are on hold until Brexit chaos is resolved'

Much of the growth in farm construction this year can be attributed to new farm building grant schemes announced by the Department of Agriculture.
Much of the growth in farm construction this year can be attributed to new farm building grant schemes announced by the Department of Agriculture.
Chloe Hegarty from Bandon, with her calf, also called Chloe, the winner of the best January Commercial Calf Heifer at the Cork Summer Show 2017. Photo: Clare Keogh
John Fagan

John Fagan

We're getting finished with some TAMS fencing jobs around the farm and I want to get them done and dusted, get the paperwork in order, and apply for payment.

I have planning permission to build another sheep shed but I'm not doing it until the chaos that is Brexit is somehow sorted out. I'm reluctant to take on any major debt until things are somewhat clearer.

If anyone thinks that Ireland's economy can manage without a free trade agreement with the UK, then they're delusional. The British are being stubbornly British about the whole thing by not accepting that leaving the EU is a major mistake.

I am certain that they'll be looking to come back by 2030. In the meantime, we have to make some sense of the whole thing. Ireland, is as far as I can see, is the child in the divorce negotiations and Brussels and London will be looking for custody.

We should go where the best interests of our economy lie and it is not beyond the realms of possibility that unless Brussels is the more loving parent we too may have to leave the EU or face a crippled economy.

The recent elections have left Britain a rudderless ship going into the bonkers Brexit negotiations so ignoring these external things and taking on a lot of debt as far as I can see is a little bit risky.

The TAMS scheme is a brilliant opportunity for farmers to invest in their farm whether it is fencing or building animal housing but if you don't need it, just because its cheap to get it, don't buy it.

Lamb price is looking good, but unfortunately I think that it is a reflection of a tighter supply rather than an increase in demand. As long as beef prices remain high generally speaking lamb price will stay up. The way I look at things now is that mid-season lamb needs to average €120 otherwise you'd be better off renting your farm.

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I got the first cut silage in and just in the nick of time before the monsoon season kicked off. A minor breakdown delayed us slightly but my contractor was well organised and managed to get things sorted out quickly and fair play to him. It's times like those when your loyalty to a contractor is invaluable. They have an extremely tough job with a lot of responsibility and everyone has to be patient and positive and luckily no one was hurt.

Grass growth has been motoring ahead and I was able to take advantage of the good weather and get some more haylage made. I will now just have to make a second cut of silage in July and I should be well covered for the winter.

I spread lime on the few fields around the farm that needed it and I always believe that correcting lime pH is better value than any fertiliser you could spread.

The aftergrass, post silage, will be a welcome source of feeding for the lambs especially post weaning. Lambs can get a little run down at this time so you need to keep quality grass in front of them.

The lambs are thriving well, they were dosed with cydectin, foot bathed and I put Clikzin on them to cover against flystrike. I used Clikzin as it has a shorter withdrawal date (seven days) meaning that you can sell lambs relatively soon, although I don't envisage having a lot of lambs fit until mid-July.

I will get the usual few that are fit drafted off the ewes. Obviously it depends on price but if it's holding well I will draft lambs from 40 kilos upwards. They should kill out at nearly 20 kilos carcase weight and I always think that these lambs are the most profitable. It would be great if all of them could be drafted at this stage but it's never that easy unless you lamb earlier in the year.

Wool prices

This week I am hoping to shear, and I'm not selling my wool for 60c/kg. It's worth at least a euro per kilo. The market is a little wobbly at the moment and I think it will settle so I am going to hold tight, keep it clean and dry and wait it out.

I plan to wean everything around the end of the month. As soon as I wean, I'll dry off everything and set about removing the cull ewes and preparing the flock for lambing 2018. Preparation for next year's lambing starts now.

Lastly a few readers have contacted me with regard to sourcing an 'Hydrometer' to test the zinc content of your foot bath. For your footbath to work you need to have at least a 5pc solution of zinc in the water.

A lot of farmers don't put in enough zinc in the footbath and it can therefore be largely ineffective against the lameness causing bacteria. You can buy them from Mike Folan is the man to chat to - his number is 087 1218800.

John Fagan farms at Gartlandstown, Co Westmeath

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