Traditional spring weather a boost in difficult times
Whatever about the ongoing debate relating to climate change, it was great to get a traditional Irish spring this year with the April showers arriving right on cue. No matter what they say about the 'May flowers', these showers gave a great boost to growth at a hugely important time of the year for most farm enterprises.
After last year's spring, I realise now that perhaps I was a bit over-cautious with my letting out dates this year.
I didn't let the last of my cattle out until the end of April, and these really have a lot of catching up to do on the cattle which went out earlier. However, on the plus side they went out into paddocks that had very good grass cover. I also gave them a copper dose as they are grazing a part of my farm which appears to have a copper deficiency problem.
The cattle that went out early have done very well and look like they should be ready to go sometime in late August, even though experience has taught me that it is dangerous to count one's chickens before they are hatched, but we live in hope. Unfortunately, hope is becoming a far too familiar part of cattle farming.
There are always a few cattle that don't do well in the shed, but it never ceases to amaze me how quickly these cattle recover when they go out to grass.
This year is no exception and what appeared to be fairly hopeless cases, including the bullock that got the bad chill at the end of February, have prospered. Nature really is remarkable.
In spite of a slow start, the silage fields which got slurry last February are now growing well. Another field that got slurry last October and was grazed lightly in March is also doing fine, and with a bit of luck they should be ready for cutting in late May.