I am the first to admit that I am a terrible patient, and when I am sick my poor wife has to endure my complaining, groaning, sniffing and general self-pitying.
It was no different when I recently tested positive for COVID-19, despite receiving my second vaccination six weeks previously.
For days, the infection left me aching and too weak to do any more than the most essential of farm tasks before being forced back to bed.
This was especially frustrating as we still had work to do to be ready for both the impending calving season and harvest.
I suggest there would be no doubt that we would all rush to the local vet, particularly if the vaccine in question is as effective as the COVID-19 option we are blessed with
I can only imagine how much worse it would have been had I not had the vaccine, and for that I am extremely thankful.
For those farmers yet to get vaccinated, if you heard there was a highly contagious livestock virus circulating in your local area that could prove fatal to your livestock, what would you do?
I suggest there would be no doubt that we would all rush to the local vet, particularly if the vaccine in question is as effective as the COVID-19 option we are blessed with.
After my experience, I would urge anyone who has not taken the opportunity to receive their vaccine to please do so. Your life and that of your family members is too precious to gamble with.
Back to the farm, any of us breeding our own replacements will know the frustration of delivering a heifer calf only to moments later retrieve a bull twin.
The chances of such a heifer being fertile I am told are less than 10%. We were faced with such a situation last January with a Fleckvieh heifer, but decided to keep the animal rather than sell as a freemartin at eight weeks, along with Fleckvieh bulls.
If the heifer had been a Holstein the decision to retain the animal would have been different
Her dam is a particularly good cow and we reasoned that as the calf is a Fleckvieh, even if she was not suitable for breeding, the heifer could still be finished for beef.
Last week she was confirmed in calf and is due in the middle of January.
If the heifer had been a Holstein the decision to retain the animal would have been different, so it’s the latest thing I can add to my list of why I use some Fleckvieh over the herd (not that I go on about it you understand).
On a similar theme, if like me you are a member of a Whats-App group made up of members from a variety of farming sectors you may find that there can be the occasional round of banter in which each sector will be critically analysed.
In such discussions I have to admit dairy farmers can sometimes come across as a bit egotistic. This is possibly due to the fact that it is the dairy sector that makes the greatest economic contribution, and many dairy farmers will also be of the opinion that it is the sector that helps to progress NI agriculture as a whole.
Of course, such a sweeping attitude cannot be considered accurate. I am actually a member of a beef finishing business development group (BDG) and have been most impressed with the farming operations within it.
And when it comes to the intensive sectors, few dairy farmers will be aware of their key performance indicators to the extent that even an average pig or poultry farmer is
Many of the farms are ran on a part-time basis and yet are implementing grazing management strategies and producing silage that would shame the majority of full-time dairy farmers.
A number are also adopting new technologies and practices right at the forefront of local agriculture.
And when it comes to the intensive sectors, few dairy farmers will be aware of their key performance indicators to the extent that even an average pig or poultry farmer is.
I know from our own dairy enterprise that this is something that we can improve on to increase efficiency and productivity.
I don’t expect (and wouldn’t want) peace to break out on agri-related WhatsApp groups. But I do think that we as dairy farmers should be a little less quick to scoff at our sectorial cousins and could spend more time exchanging ideas and experiences (even if we secretly know that they could never cope with early morning milking seven days a week).