Superlevy worries abating and co-op AGM worth a visit


Gerard Sherlock

Gerard Sherlock

The 12th day of every month is always eagerly awaited by Town of Monaghan suppliers as this is pay-day. The June cheque is the last big one for the year as they are getting smaller from here on. At our board meeting last week we got a 1c increase to 34c including VAT. The chief executive also reckoned that the milk price has peaked. It is interesting how butter markets are doing so well now and were so poor not long ago.

The latest KPMG report was discussed but, unfortunately, there was nothing revolutionary in it. I am disappointed with the endless number of reports that have been done on the dairy industry, paid for by us dairy farmers and are sitting on shelves collecting dust. Our co-op AGM is next Monday night and it deserves attendance by all dairy farmers who are planning for the future.

The cold and wet month of June certainly has reduced the worry of the superlevy for me. I saw milk volumes rise and fall nearly every day in June. I applied for temporary leasing and got 3,595 litres. It doesn't seem much now but it could mean a lot in the last week of March next year. Present figures are 24 litres/cow at 3.69pc butterfat and 3.35pc protein, giving 1.73kg MS/cow/day. SCC is 174,000 and TBC is 5,000. Grass quality is medium to good.

I didn't start topping paddocks until June 20. It has left more stem in paddocks but with grass growth in June as low as 45kg/ha/day, topping would have reduced recovery even more. Pasture sward costing €385/t has been spread since June 20 at 23 units/ac.

Following on from our last discussion group meeting, many of us saw colouring of grass leaves, which suggested it needed P and K. We also agreed we should be spreading P and K in late May before the colouring sets in.

An Angus bull is running with the cows at present. I am hoping to finish breeding by the first week of next month.

CAN costing €285/t was spread for second cut at 70 units/ac. Hopefully the second cut will be ready for the last week of this month. The explosion of growth in the past 10 days has helped. Some docks appeared and they were treated with half-rate doxstar.

At our last group meeting, we looked at cash flow. In general, it looks fairly good so far this year which, in turn, will cause a bigger problem -- the tax bill. My own accounts year ended on June 30, so I will be keen to get IFAC to complete the bookwork as soon as possible. There is a fear that tax bills will be higher this year due to better profits and higher taxes so I want to plan ahead for the November bill.

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Recreation has been plentiful over the month. On June 16, we had the herds competition with 66 herds taking part. I got a third place for my junior cow in the intermediate section. It's always nice to get a mention. I have attended the two field evenings which test the skill of stock judging. Rob Hancock, who was judge at one of the evenings, made an interesting point. In the senior cow class, his selection as first place cow was the subject of some debate. Some said she had a weak loin.

Rob defended his placing by saying she had more positive features going for her than the one negative. He said we should always begin looking for the positives in a cow rather than the negatives. I thought to myself, shouldn't we do this when talking about people as well?

I am at the minute training a January calf with my children for the calf show on Saturday next. Fair play to any breeder who brings animals to shows as it takes a lot of time in washing, clipping and all-round patience.

Recently, a farmer I know got a kick while milking his cows.

He had to lie in the parlour all night until somebody found him the next morning. We all curse the mobile phone but in this case it would have been useful. Maybe there is a case for training or whatever for the more senior farmers among us.

Finally, I was caught out recently in getting delayed and knowing I wasn't going to be back for evening milking. I made a phone call and thankfully my relief milker was available.

It is so important that we all have one or indeed two people who can milk for us in an emergency. I don't know about you, but there is nothing I hate more than coming home from something late and having to face milking.

Gerard Sherlock is a dairy farmer from Tydavnet, Co Monaghan. Email:

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