Grazing kale

It has been a tough start to the winter for grazing kale crops. Some farmers are still reporting good utilisation rates where ground conditions are good. Take note of how fast you are proceeding through the crop.

It needs to be finished being grazed by 17 March (before flowering), so increase the stocking rate if you won’t hit this target.

Feed a fibre source (baled silage or straw) when grazing kale and make sure animals receive adequate minerals as kale is deficient in trace elements. Many will bolus animals before starting to graze kale.

Take care if there is frost or snow on the crop and make sure to not move the fence until the crop has thawed in the afternoon.

Under cross compliance animals need access to a dry lie-back area of the kale. Be careful where a tractor is going in and out of a field with bales, as if the soil becomes liquefiable it could attract a penalty during a cross compliance inspection.

Cattle also need access to a dry area for lying. Some farmers that were having problems with animals knocking posts over have changed to posts that carry current to the ground and are finding these are working better.

Make sure there is a good current in the fence, maybe switch off other areas to leave more shock going to the brassica crop.

Vermin Control

As usual, the colder winter temperatures have caused an increase in rodent activity in yards and houses.

You should be on the lookout for things such as footprints, droppings around feed stores, holes or burrows or anything that looks like it’s been gnawed at or chewed in sheds.

Rodents pose not only a threat to animal health but to human health too, so vigilance is key. If you are handling poison bait or working in an area that you suspect might be infested, make sure to wear gloves.

It is recommended to use a purpose-built bait box, but if you opt not to, then ensure any bait is covered (e.g. in a pipe) to prevent other animals ingesting it.

The use of poison bait should be recorded in your Bord Bia quality assurance plan.

Rodents are not confined to the yard and sheds, and can often take shelter in the warm, centrally heated farm house.

Do your best to shore up any potential access points, keeping in mind that a rat can fit through a gap the width of your thumb (13mm), while a mouse can fit through a gap the width of a pencil (6mm).

If after 35 days of active pest control you find that infestation persists, alternative measures need to be considered.

Fodder Support Scheme Deadline

The purpose of the Fodder Support Scheme 2023 (FSS) is to incentivise farmers to grow sufficient grass and conserve fodder (silage and/or hay) for the 2023 winter.

The payment rate is €100/ha up to a maximum of 10ha. To be eligible for FSS 2023, you must:

  • Have a valid 2022 Fodder Support Scheme application.
  • Apply for FSS online at on or before the 5 December 2022.
  • Confirm and agree to cut and conserve the declared area for silage and/or hay by 5 September 2023.