Thursday 22 March 2018

‘We need more garda resources in the country’ - ICSA

Munster Farmer

At a meeting with the Minister for Justice & Equality Charles Flanagan to discuss the ICSA agricultural crime survey, ICSA president Patrick Kent said that rural people want more resources in community policing, stiffer sentences for repeat offenders and closer consultation between rural stakeholders, local authorities and An Garda Siochana.

"ICSA's National Agricultural Crime Survey undertaken in conjunction with WIT, revealed alarmingly that 45% of agricultural crime goes unreported for a variety of reasons.

These include little faith that the Gardaí have adequate resources to recover goods or catch the perpetrators and a sense that the justice system is not penalising these criminals sufficiently. We need to see these issues addressed urgently."


TAMs rule disqualifying grant aid on pre-approval deposits is hugely ‘unfair’

Against a background of a rise in complaints from farmers relating to the technical aspects and rules of the TAMS Scheme, the Chairperson of ICMSA's Farm & Rural Affairs has singled out as particularly unfair the rule which specifically excludes the payment of a grant on a deposit that has been paid in advance of approval being received and the possibility of the imposition of penalties as a result.

Pat Rohan said that it was difficult to imagine a more perfect example of an excessively bureaucratic rule and one, moreover, that failed to recognise the simple practicalities around why a deposit might have to be paid.

"For example, where there are delays in approvals being issued, farmers will often be asked by contractors for deposits which they feel obliged to pay so as to ensure that the job will be completed by a specific date or within a specific time period. There are many completely legitimate and wholly understandable why deposits may have to be paid in advance of approval and ICMSA believe that the Department should change the rules to allow the payment of the grant on the deposit amount - irrespective of when the deposit has been paid."

Mr Rohan was critical of what he called the "almost forensic examination" of receipts and timeframes and, while acknowledging that this was at the insistence of the EU, he described it as "way over the top" and called for a degree of flexibility and common sense to be applied in relation to such issues as deposits which, according to him, should form part of Commissioner Hogan's simplification agenda.

Having specified the deposit rule as a particular flaw, Mr Rohan said that farmers need to be aware of the regulation disqualifying payment of grant aid on deposits and he urged anyone considering payment of a deposit or who had been asked for a deposit to realise fully how the system worked.


Lime can help prevent lameness in housed sheep

By Kevin O'Sullivan

Lameness can be a continuous problem for some flocks and less of a problem for others. Lameness affects sheep welfare and performance with the management of lameness having financial costs for the farmer as a result of increasing labour input and treatment costs.

There are whole range of foot conditions that can cause lameness- some of which are interrelated.

The most common types are scald and footrot and there is a connection between the two with scald - though having a different causative agent - making sheep more susceptible to footrot.

Typically during the housing period the incidence of lameness tends to increase. The adverse effects are compounded when ewes are in late pregnancy.

Notwithstanding the fact that additional handling to treat ewes during this stage of gestation is undesirable, the additional stressors on the ewes system during this period can compound underlying problems.

Increased incidence of prolapse, reduced feed intake, suppressed immune system and reduced litter birth weight are often mentioned among the issues resulting from lameness in a flock in this period.

Although there has been an increase the amount of slatted housing used for sheep flocks, nationally the vast majority of farms still use straw bedded housing or a combination of both.

There are some basics that should be recognised when it comes to housing sheep no matter what surface they are to be housed on.

Firstly do not house lame ewes: treat until they are clear of infection and keep penned separately until you're satisfied they have no symptoms of lameness. Secondly where lame ewes are identified during the housing period they should be removed to a separate house and treated (until cured) before returning to the general housing.

Lime has a number of properties that encourages its use in animal housing. Lime acts as a drying agent and will reduce moisture content around bedding. Depending on the product, used lime can also raise the pH of the environment thereby acting as an antibacterial agent.

A Teagasc study examined the effect of applying hydrated lime to control lameness in housed ewes over a period of 41-67 days where pens were limed along the feed area at least once weekly prior to bedding compared to pens with no lime applied.

The study found that the incidence of lameness in the limed pens was significantly lower at 5.2% than the un-limed pens at 12.8%.

In addition there was a steady increase in the incidence of lameness in the un-limed pens on a weekly basis throughout the duration of the study.

There are 3 main categories available: (1) Standard cubicle lime: Generally ground limestone, pH typically 8.3, grey with a gritty appearance: acts mainly as a drying agent with little overall effect on pH. (2)Blended mix: mixture of hydrated lime and ground limestone - generally 10 to 30%.

The pH will vary depending on the mix/product. (3).Hydrated Lime: A more finely ground product that has a 'flour like' texture, has a pH of 12+. As with all these products (but especially hydrated lime) the handler must use of a face mask, gloves and overalls/protective clothing.

Flocks that experience lameness issues on an on-going basis during the housing period may benefit from the use of lime reducing the occurrence of lameness. Indeed the anti-bacterial properties of lime are of value in any animal housing.