It’s been a horrendous spring on many farms up and down the country.

Many have been feeding cattle since last September and Tullamore Farm is no different, now in its seventh month of winter, something unheard of for the Co Offaly farm.

It’s been a hard spring on everybody. When you get to April, there is always some hope that things are improving, fields are drying out, lambs are skipping around fields and cows and calves settle into their grazing routine.

Unfortunately, spring 2024 brought very little settling and it was a matter of keep on trudging through in the hope that at 1pm on Sunday the man or woman standing in front of the green map of Ireland on the TV would have some good news.

Glimmer of hope

Last Sunday was the first glimmer of hope, with a predominantly dry week forecast. While it hasn’t been a textbook spring week, it has been a drier one and we’ll take that.

The pressure is also easing a little on Tullamore Farm, with some of the drier ground on the outfarm in Cloonagh drying out very well over the last few days.

Silage ground is still under pressure, with water lying on some of it, but farm manager Shaun Diver hopes that by the end of next week, he will be able to get the silage fertiliser spread.

The farm is in a good place in relation to fodder, with silage left over from the last two years.

We were toying with the idea of reducing fertiliser application and the amount of ground that was closed up for second cut last year, but Shaun is glad now we didn’t go with that option.

We said at the time we might need it, but hoped that we wouldn’t need the reserve quite as quickly as we did.

We were very lucky we didn’t have to buy any fodder, as supplies are tight in the area. We’ve been using about 600kg to 700kg of meal a week that we shouldn’t have been using over the last six weeks just to make sure that cows didn’t fall back in body condition too much.

There are currently 41 heifers out grazing, along with 250 ewes and lambs. Twenty cows and calves were turned out to grass three weeks ago and managed to stay out, with a further 20 cows and calves being turned out on Friday on the farm.

This coincides with the start of breeding, with the first cow inseminated on Thursday.

This is about two weeks earlier than last year, but we are finding that the new shed means we can afford to calve a little earlier and try to increase the weaning weight of calves on the farm come October.

Forty heifers were synchronised this week as well and they were also inseminated on Thursday 18 April.

A combination of sexed semen and conventional semen was used base on the time of onset of heat. EBY, Brooklands Marco and LM9577 were all used on the heifers this week. The synchronisation programme is costing €30/heifer excluding the cost of AI.