Restrictions have been lifted at last around the country this week and while we all welcome the opportunity to go for a sociable pint or coffee at a reasonable time of day, most farmers will have to move quickly before the spring workload hits its peak and renders that decision somewhat redundant over the next few months.
Every bit of help is very welcome at this time of year
Some yards might even have welcomed the return to a stricter lockdown for a few weeks, to restrict family members’ movements within easy reach of the calf shed or milking parlour, like the last couple of years.
Every bit of help is very welcome at this time of year, but we won’t begrudge the younger generation the time and space they have to enjoy their new-found freedom.
We are already in the thick of calving at this stage in Clara. With almost half of the herd back milking now, we have our own self-imposed lockdown. But despite having to miss out on the newly declared freedom, we could not have asked for better weather for the first few weeks of the season.
We have managed to get all of the cows out grazing full-time since calving, with ground conditions near-perfect and temperatures mild enough right through January.
Every fine day is a bonus at this time of year and it looks like we might get a few more good ones before the weather breaks significantly.
It’s been a great start to the year for the early-calving cows, no matter what happens from here.
Slurry is the main priority for this week
We will keep the calving date under review as we move through the year and see how grass supply holds up. It could be a long and hard spring yet, but we have been happy with the decision to move things forward so far.
Slurry is the main priority for this week, apart from the calves and milking. Over the next few days, we should bring the total up to a third of the farm spread. Soil temperatures are still low enough, but with ground so dry, it is too good an opportunity to get a larger volume out safely.
It has been an exceptional January for some of the heavier farms in the country to get slurry out onto ground early before things get too busy.
Hopefully, slurry will keep grass growing well enough through the start of the spring.
There is still no good news on the price front
We will hold off on bag fertiliser for another couple of weeks – at least until soil temperatures come up a bit more. We might go with the first round in mid-February.
There is still no good news on the price front, but we will just have to swallow that pill over the first six months of the year and see what happens after that.
All milk price news internationally is positive still, so we should see exceptionally-strong milk price performance from all of our co-ops this year to cover these extra costs.
The co-op formerly known as Glanbia has no new name yet, but is going to hit the ground running with a very lucky start.
They will be judged on their performance relative to the other processors, but any year starting with 40c/l plus and looking like a record year for price is a very good place for us to start our new era.