We have enjoyed an exceptional back end to the year so far. Ground conditions have been perfect for the final grazing rotation and grass growth has been excellent for the last few weeks. Cows are cleaning out the paddocks exceptionally well as they are closed up for the winter and grass quality for that final rotation has been excellent.

We will be finishing up the long walks this week and, thankfully, keeping the cows closer to the yard for the next few weeks. We have had to lift a few cows’ feet every week for the last month but most are coming right quickly enough if treated early. We might dry off some older cows with small issues to give their feet a longer rest over the winter.

We have also hired a digger this week to try to clean off and improve the worst sections of the roadway. We will have to apply dust to some of these sections to keep the cows comfortable on them for the rest of the year. We will have to do a bigger job on larger stretches of the roadway over the winter, but this should keep things moving for the moment.

We have been drafting out a few cull cows for the mart each week for the last few weeks. We are seeing exceptional prices for some of the better-conditioned cows, so we will continue to send a few cows in that direction in the next couple of months. We will also feed on some cows for the factory to keep an eye on prices there.

Milk price

With milk price where it is and feed supplies fairly strong, there’s obviously a temptation to milk on all the cull cows for as long as possible this year. It’s important to remember though that we need to get cow numbers down as quickly as possible before the winter or before ground conditions deteriorate too much as accommodation is limited.

The in-calf heifers will be brought in for the winter soon. They are moving through grass quickly now as they continue to grow and appetite increases. The weanlings’ demand for grass has also increased a lot in recent weeks. Grass feeding value is going back a bit at this stage of the year which is probably a factor as well, but young stock are very well grown this year and well ahead of target so they are capable of eating more grass than usual.

If we bring in the heifers early, we can start them on their winter diet including pre-calver minerals in a timely fashion and get them trained and settled into the cubicle shed a bit quicker. The weanlings will get a bit longer at grass then and hopefully stay off meal for another few weeks.

We have an opportunity to meet Minister McConalogue in Kilkenny Mart this week and hear his position on CAP, carbon, nitrates and all of the other issues both local and national that are facing our sector. Hopefully he also takes the opportunity to listen to local farmers’ concerns around all of these issues and, more importantly, acts on these concerns.

A lot of the conversation in this region will centre around convergence of CAP payments and the recent nitrates proposals.

But recent comments around where the credits from carbon sequestration will be allocated will have to be discussed robustly as well.

Forestry is a hard enough sell already with all of the planning issues, as well as current and potential future disease issues.

Landowners who are prepared to allocate a portion of their holding to a carbon sink have to get the full benefit from those carbon credits, or else why would they make that commitment?

Farmers will not roll over on this. It’s time that the Government acknowledged the crucial role that farmers play in climate action and time they took a much harder look at how they can encourage farmers to participate in the climate action plan rather than alienating them and sidelining them at every opportunity.