Farmer writes: milk price rising, but no grass
At the moment the paddocks are looking brown and thin, so we have just purchased 30t of brewers’ grains at £52/t, writes Joe Collingborn.

Many successful men are driven by a woman. I wouldn’t say that I am a particularly successful man, but there are many occasions when I am driven by a woman.

It was early in May when the other end of the table strongly suggested that it was time to go make silage. I could think of several reasons why it was too soon:

“The pit hasn’t been cleaned.”

“Has all the N been used up?”

“Shouldn’t we wait for more grass?”

But I knew from bitter experience that if I delayed and the rain came I would be reminded three times a day: “If only we had gone when I said to go."

The pit was cleaned out in time, just, the N was used up, just, and the crop was there, just. And the rain came just after we’d sheeted up. This year we insisted the contracting team helped us sheet up, as in the past we had issues.

We have moved to nets and gravel bags to cover the clamp – a great improvement over wet and smelly tyres. The only problem is what to do with those tyres now.

Going early with the first cut meant we had to go early with the second cut, because the heat and drought were making it head out, and what bulk was left was shrinking in the heat. Hopefully we will get some regrowth on these pastures to graze the milking herd, rather than hope for a third cut.

At the moment the paddocks are looking brown and thin, so we have just purchased 30t of brewers’ grains at £52/t. This will be used to compensate the lack of grass. Up until now we have been feeding wraps made this year from the pastures that got away from us. This was caused by a two-month late turnout and having to leapfrog over wet paddocks.

At the moment we are drying cows off from the autumn-calving group and selling barroners, which will take some of the pressure off the grazing, but it is still going to be expensive to maintain milk yields and fertility.

The milk price is rapidly rising, but with no grass how can we possibly take advantage of the situation?

My accountant tells me that looking forward labour will become such an issue. It will either be 100-cow family farms or 1,000 cows. We’ll definitely be the former.

Cattle on the run lead to brawl between neighbours over fencing
A row over cattle fencing resulted in a man being convicted of assault and a second criticised for using inflammatory language in a case described by a judge as “a sorry mess between neighbours”.

Trevor Deane, aged 34, of Clounties, Dunmanway, Co Cork, denied two charges arising out of the incident on July 29, 2016, when it was claimed he assaulted a neighbour, Michael Casey, causing harm and also assaulted Mr Casey’s brother, Patrick.

Michael Casey, who runs a car valeting business, gave evidence that at noon on the day he saw five cattle belonging to Deane in his field. He said he failed to make contact with Deane by phone but got the cattle out. At 5pm, he saw between 10 and 12 cows back in his field. He tried to return them but gave up and rang Deane.

“I said put up your fence, I am fed up with this craic,” the witness told Clonakilty District Court.

Mr Casey said Deane arrived and then started calling out to him, saying “out in the road” and “are you a coward, or what?”

He claimed Mr Deane accused him of being “the cause of the trouble”.

“He started jumping around the road like Muhammad Ali,” Mr Casey said. “Next thing, he made a drive for me.

“He said ‘you’re a coward’. I said you are only looking for compensation off your neighbour.”

Mr Casey claimed Deane kicked him and then struck him “a belt of a fist”, knocking him on the ground. He said he managed to roll away, before his brother, Pat, who was also present, shouted at Deane to stop.

Michael Casey said Deane’s father, Reggie, was present and had accused Mr Casey of “blackguarding” his son.

“I said you had right to have drowned your young fella, we wouldn’t have these problems at all,” Mr Casey said, in the witness box. He said after that exchange “we got stuck into a row”.

Images of cuts and scrapes on Mr Casey, taken later that day by gardaí, were shown in court.

Mr Casey denied there had been issues between the two families for decades and said he could only count four years since 2002 when cattle had not strayed on to his property.

Patrick Casey said in evidence that Deane seemed “in a violent rage” and after a discussion about the fencing, Deane hit Michael Casey and then hit him in the ear. He said Mr Deane “sort of kicked the legs out from under [his brother]”, who landed in the dyke.

“I started roaring at him and said ‘stop, for God’s sake, you’ll kill him’.”

Deane’s solicitor Eamonn Fleming queried why Mr Casey’s initial statement to gardaí gave different estimates on how many cattle were in his field at both times that day while, in evidence, Trevor Deane claimed the Caseys had been abusive to him since he was a teenager and denied going to Mr Casey’s place at all that day.

He said he had been in Skibbereen Mart — producing a sales invoice to prove it — before returning home for his dinner and then going to an outside farm in Coppeen.

Deane’s partner Siobhán gave a similar timeline for the day and his father Reggie said, after returning from the mart, he had fallen asleep in front of the television.

Garda Kay Gaynor said she tried to discuss the incident with Trevor Deane but was unsuccessful and when she met Reggie Deane she said he became abusive.

Judge Mary Dorgan said “good fences make good neighbours”, adding: “Cows being cows, they break out.”

She said Mr Casey’s “drowning” comment was “a terribly inflammatory thing to say”.

“I am not impressed with the evidence I heard from either side,” she added.

Deane was convicted on both charges and was bound to the peace for 24 months and fined €350.

*This story first appeared in the Irish Examiner.*

KT farm improvement deadline extended
The deadline for submission of data for farm improvement plans has been extended to facilitate weather conditions.

A two-week extension to the date for submission of farm improvement plans in the Knowledge Transfer (KT) Scheme has been granted. Farmers now have until 14 August to submit their plans. However, the 31 July deadline for holding meetings of KT groups remains in place.

Processing will begin on cases submitted by the original 31 July deadline in order to ensure that any impact on payment timelines is minimised, the Department has said.

“This extension has arisen on foot of concerns expressed in relation to the amount of resources currently being dedicated by advisory services to assisting farmers in dealing with the current weather conditions,” Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed said.

Creed urged all participants in KT groups to submit their farm improvement plan data as soon as possible.

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