It has been a busy couple of weeks in Clara through the first half of May, with the first-cut silage done and dusted and fertiliser and slurry back out across that ground to try to get it growing again as soon as possible. The rain has arrived at the right time to wash in the slurry and fertiliser, so hopefully everything comes together well for a good growing season through June.

We have a great team working on-farm and great contractors, which makes all of this possible and keeps all the wheels moving smoothly.

A few phone calls and everything gets taken care of very quickly and efficiently. We use our own machinery where possible to speed up or simplify the job, such as mowing out the headlands or agitating slurry to help keep pressure to a minimum.

A drought is always in the back of your mind in Kilkenny, so it’s imperative to get silage cut early and get feedback growing on fields again as soon as possible at this time of year. This gives us options of grazing or cutting over the next few months, but hopefully, with this rain, we will be able to go with plan A and get a good second-cut off some of this ground next. Then it will be grazing or surplus bales from there to the back end of the year.

We pushed reasonably hard with fertiliser early this year, to catch the peak growth rates and to fill up the bank of silage for the winter. We are in a good position now to reduce the rates for the rest of the season and let clover do some of the heavy lifting from here on. We will still spread nitrogen regularly, just at a lower rate.


We will get the calves onto some of the aftergrass as soon as it is strong enough for grazing, and hopefully then we can bale a few other bits of ground across their block to keep fresh grass in front of them over the next few months. They will be due a first dose around the time the aftergrass is ready, but we will do a few dung samples first to see if this is necessary.

We are just hitting the six week mark with the breeding season this week. We seem to have had a good enough conception rate of 60% not returning to first service through the first three weeks, which is acceptable after maybe 10% sexed semen usage.

Milk price with most processors has broken the 50c/l barrier this week, which is as necessary as it is welcome

Numbers of cows bulling on the phone app have dipped markedly again as we move towards week seven, so hopefully we get a good outcome from breeding season 2022.

We will move to predominantly beef straws this week and try to keep things simple from March onwards next spring. All male dairy and beef calves this year moved on very quickly out of the yard, so we won’t change much with the breeding programme at this time.

Milk price with most processors has broken the 50c/l barrier this week, which is as necessary as it is welcome.

The extra costs for this year are now thankfully covered by the rise in price through peak months, which is a huge help to farmers both mentally and physically. Feed, fuel and fertiliser costs are extremely high, but we can still push on and fill the silage pits and take on jobs like reseeding and farm maintenance.

Fixed milk prices

Unfortunately, some farmers are left behind with large volumes of milk fixed at only 60% of the current base price. More needs to be done to assist these farmers and the businesses that work with them to get them through a very tough situation.

The co-ops have made a few gestures but haven’t gone far enough yet in my opinion. Some solutions have a serious sting in the tail that makes them very unattractive. Hopefully the banks, merchants and the co-ops can step up over the next few months with some innovative supports to help get these farmers through a difficult period.