I weighed the heifers that didn’t make the cut for breeding on Tuesday morning. The effort made in trying to get them into the yard justified the decision not to keep them. There’s a few special cases among them who would rather go on a tour of the field than into the yard.

They had a run on the scales a month ago too and I’ve decided to dose any of those gaining under 1kg/day. A pooled dung sample was taken just to see if there is more than just worms at play. Once results are back, they will get another run through the yard.

Breeding is on the wind-down for the heifers who will be retained. The bull with them is coming home to the main group of cows to mop up after AI. Those heifers will be scanned in a month or so and any empties will join their livelier comrades.

I had a first in my farming career recently. There was no bagged fertiliser spread for seven weeks from mid-April all through May. Whether that comes back to bite me at a later date is to be seen but you have to try things. A combination of unfavourable weather and reseeding saw me hold off on spreading, I just didn’t realise the length of time until I checked the diary.

Grass covers are where I want them and silage is up to date so it looks like slurry and clover kept the show on the road.

Silage has been a bit tricky to make this year. I don’t think I’ve checked the weather as often, certainly not since 2012 when we were waiting for the rain to stop and it didn’t. A month ago, you’d wonder if grass would get going at all as conditions were colder than usual. Grass growth has hit the stage where two paddocks planned for grazing were knocked to keep things in check.

Trade deals

The first of the post-Brexit trade deals that could affect Irish farmers has been signed off on with agreement reached between the UK and Australia. This could open the door to a string of other deals providing serious competition for Irish livestock farmers.

If it does, we’ll have to think a bit differently on how we do things on farm, particularly if we have to compete with global prices.

As one of the largest countries in the British Empire, Australia was a major provider of agricultural exports to the UK. By the end of World War II, one-third of all Australian agricultural exports went to the UK. This included 80% of all its beef exports. As a result of Britain joining the EEC in 1973, tariffs and quotas were applied almost overnight on Australian agricultural exports destined for the UK. This forced it to diversify and it focused on trade with the Middle East, Asia and North America.

Due to a strong global demand for beef and producers in Australia rebuilding their herd after drought, we’re unlikely to see a major impact in the short term.

Geographic proximity could play a role in aiding our cause too – our nearness to the UK markets and Australia’s to the population powerhouses in southeast Asia, in particular. A strong demand for protein in that region could absorb volume, meaning it would be higher value cuts as our initial competition in Britain.

Between trade competition, climate action and CAP talks there’s a lot of uncontrollables for Irish agriculture to keep an eye on.