Signs that autumn is upon us can be seen daily around the yard, as the trees drop leaves of various colours to the ground. Along with this, the breeding season is in full swing.
The first cycle has just finished with the natural service ewes. All going well, we won’t have many repeats. At this stage, I will start raddling the rams and changing the colours every 10 days. This will help identify any ewes that are repeating and will also identify what ewes are due between different dates come the spring.
We will be pulling the sponges from the different groups of ewes for AI at various stages over the next week, with insemination two days later for each group.
The number of lambs has reduced well lately, with more off to the factory this week. The group of ram lambs is small now. They have been on 0.5kg of meal for a few weeks and are performing well. I will continue to draft the ewe lambs from 45kg and the rams from 46kg, as they are killing out well at these weights, with little in the way of discounted meat being given away.
Grass growth over the last few weeks has been very good and I have a number of fields with heavier covers than I would like. I will give them a partial graze now and come back later in the year to clean them out with the ewes when they don’t require the same quality feed. To keep the autumn grazing plan on target, I will graze out some of the fields with lighter covers now as well. The great thing about having a plan is you can balance things out in the case of over- or under-supply of feed.
The Redstart and cover crops in the stubble ground have been doing well over the last month. It will keep the ewes outside longer and stretch out silage and straw supplies.
I got most of the farmyard manure (FYM) spread earlier in the autumn. We are planning to get the last of it spread in the coming weeks and it will be targeted to some of the fields with the highest requirement for nutrients, such as the ones with the lowest P and K indices, before the closed period and while field conditions allow.
With farm work a little slacker, I attended the IFA call to action rally in Portlaoise last week. I have been growing increasingly annoyed with how our Government has been handling things regarding agriculture and the environment in the last while, and by the looks of the crowds present, I don’t think I’m the only one. We are now importing timber and woodchips into the country for building and energy production while Irish timber growers struggle to get felling licences. There is an increasing push towards electric vehicles and heating systems, yet our infrastructure is well behind the increasing needs of this plan. We are also importing peat into the country for use in horticulture, as harvesting has been ceased on Irish boglands. Has anyone looked into the biosecurity of this? We already have ash dieback spreading rampantly across the country due to the importation of ash plants from abroad, as well as invasive species such as Japanese knotweed.
From a sheep point of view, we are giving away our wool – could this be used within the horticulture industry, along with a reduced use of Irish peat, or even used as a natural insulation source within any new Government building projects? Has the Government sat down to think about how these issues can be fixed without sending our country backwards? Surely, we could be part of the solution rather than the easy scapegoats in the blame game, but we need to get credit for what we are already doing on-farm.