From Tallinn to Tullamore – meet the 17 Estonian breeders at Tullamore Show
Crediting the quality of Irish beef stock and the high proportion of grass in the diet, 17 Limousin breeders from Estonia have come to Ireland as part of a five-day tour.

People came from all corners of the country to the Tullamore Show on Sunday, but few travelled further than a group of breeders from Estonia. The group, made up of 17 Estonian Limousin breeders, was in Ireland for a five-day tour.

Speaking to the Irish Farmers Journal, Diana Pearna, one of the breeders, said: “I visited Ireland five years ago and was very impressed with the quality of the stock. The cattle here are famous and if we want to be better we have to learn from the best.”

Estonian sucklers

Diana explained that the suckler herd in Estonia is still very young and that the Limousin breed itself has only been in the country since 2000.

Pork is the main meat in Estonia and eating beef is a new experience to many Estonians.

Due to climatic conditions, most Estonian beef farmers sell their weanlings at 300kg to other EU countries, as well as Turkey, for finishing. Herefords are the most popular breed followed by Angus, Limousin, Simmental and Charolais.

Reputation

“We have been amazed by the quality of the calves here,'’ Diana says. “For their age they are so well-grown. We have used a lot of genetics from continental Europe. Our first Limousins came from our Finnish neighbours.

“We want to widen this and include Ireland. Here, you grow more grass and do not use many other feeds. This is something we value and want to do. Many of us are interested in importing semen from Irish bulls.”

Most farmers are between 40 and 60 years old and there are problems getting young people interested

Diana says that in Estonia, herds have an average of 70 cows but there are also a lot of hobby farmers with only a handful of cows. Most farmers are between 40 and 60 years old and there are problems getting young people interested.

“We have been very impressed by all the young handlers here today [at Tullamore]. It is a great way to get children interested. Most young people in Estonia just want to work in IT and the only muscle they develop is their finger,” Diana laughs.

The group will also visit the ICBF Tully Progeny Test Centre and four pedigree herds during their visit.

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In pictures: the cattle champions of Tullamore Show 2018

In pictures: showers fail to dampen spirits at Tullamore Show

This week in photos: Carrigaline Macra Conference
Our top farming photos from the last week include Balymahon Mart and milking in Co Cork.

Bobby and Paul Young in Co Laois

Bobby Young and his son Paul rounding up ewes on their farm at the Heath, Portlaoise, Co Laois, before dosing. The ewes are being given Heptavac P Plus and will be housed in early December, before lambing begins in early January. \ Philip Doyle

Ballymahon Mart in Co Longford

Tom McCormack working at Ballymahon Mart. \ Philip Doyle

Mart worker Tom Price at Ballymahon Mart. \ Philip Doyle

John Bourke in Co Cork

John Bourke training some young calves to the automatic feeder on his farm at Ballyroberts, Castlelyons, Co Cork. John and his wife Mary milk 150 pedigree Holstein cows, with 25% calving in the autumn. Calving has nearly finished and the milk is supplied to Glanbia under the co-op’s winter milk scheme. Cows are still out by day, but are in by night on silage and maize. The fresh cows are on 8kg of meal, with the rest of the herd on 4kg. At present, the whole herd is producing 2.2kg of milk solids. \ Donal O’Leary

Padraic Niland in Co Galway

Padraic Niland, a sheep breeder from Chessy, Ardrahan, Co Galway, feeding his Texel ewes ahead of a forthcoming sale. \ David Ruffles

Carrigaline Macra na Feirme conference in Cork

Gerry Murphy of Met Éireann speaking at the Carrigaline Macra conference in Cork. \ Donal O’Leary

James Browne from Ballygarvan, Cathal Cashman from Glanmire and Seamus Reid from Glanmire. \ Donal O'Leary

Teddy Cashman from Whitescross, Katherine Lynch of AIB Patrick Street and Jimmy Hosford from Minnane Bridge. \ Donal O'Leary

Mark Geaney from Carrignavar, James Linehan from Whitechurch, Finbarr Hegarty from Carrignavar and William McAuliffe from Whitechurch. \ Donal O'Leary

Hickey family farm in Co Limerick

Jim Hickey along with his grandson John and dog Molly bring the cows in for milking at Inch-St-Laurence, Caherconlish, Co Limerick. Jim and his wife Betty farm alongside their son Michael running 160 cows. The herd is in by night and, weather permitting, they will stay out by day until the end of the month. Twenty percent of the herd are dried off and Michael plans to finish milking in early December, with calving due to begin in late January. \ Donal O’Leary

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Around the country in pictures

This week in photos: Carnaross Mart

This week in pictures: Cavan Mart

What is the most overlooked source of infection on all our farms?
2017 Nuffield scholar and dairy farmer Eamon Sheehan has identified a key source of infection on all farms.

An overlooked source of infection on all farms is water, Eamon Sheehan told the Nuffield Ireland conference in Castleknock on Friday.

“Water troughs grow a biofilm that harbour bad bacteria, putting constant stress on the animals,” he said.

Sheehan also showed the conference a picture of two dead birds he pulled out of a water trough on his farm and asked, “would you drink out of that?”

He treats his water with PIP Water Plus, introducing good bacteria to clear the bad bacteria.

His report is called Microbial management and its importance in the dairy and beef industry.

Antibiotics

The availability of antibiotics since the 1950s on farms has led to misuse and suggests that a lot of their prophylactic use is more of a crutch than a necessity.

To help agriculture meet the antimicrobial resistance challenge, he recommends:

  • That the government removes the 23% VAT rate on vaccines.
  • More milk recording should be carried out by farmers and the government could incentivise this or co-ops could have a bonus scheme for low SCC.
  • Milk culturing.
  • Reducing antibiotic use through better husbandry.
  • Selective dry cow therapy.
  • “Blanket dry cow treatment is illegal in most EU countries,” Sheehan said.

    “Less than 35% of dairy farms in Ireland milk-record, which is comparable to the Dutch in the 1950s. You need to be recording to do selective dry cow therapy because if it’s not done right it won’t work. It needs to be clinical.”

    Reduced SCC

    By milk recording and using selective dry cow therapy over the last three years, Sheehan has reduced the SCC on his farm.

    “The return to a pre-antibiotic era is the greatest threat to agriculture and would have devastating effects for us as an industry. We can show example through leadership in our industry by developing strategies for our own farms and getting involved in current strategies already put in place by industry.”

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    Nuffield conference: 'There is no threat larger than farmers themselves'

    Varadkar pledges income tax cuts and more forestry on farms
    An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has addressed tax equality and the role of agriculture in climate change in a speech as Fine Gael party leader.

    An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has promised to achieve tax equality between self-employed and PAYE workers and singled out on-farm forestry and the modernisation of Bord na Móna as priorities to tackle climate change.

    Speaking at the Fine Gael Árd Fheis in Dublin this Saturday, Taoiseach Varadkar mentioned existing tax and pension measures in favour of farmers and other self-employed workers, but added: "We're not done yet."

    Drawing from the experience of Fine Gael members surrounding him on stage, he first addressed the "hopes and fears for the future" of Kevin, a farmer from Co Leitrim.

    Full equality

    "Now we want there to be full equality for the self-employed and businesspeople when it comes to income tax," he said. "There’s no reason why someone who is self-employed should pay more income tax than those of use who are PAYE."

    The 2016 programme for government committed to increasing the earned income tax credit to €1,650 for the self-employed by 2018, but the recent Budget 2019 fell short of that, at €1,350.

    As he seeks to extend the confidence and supply agreement with Fianna Fáil, An Taoiseach pledged to close the gap if Fine Gael stayed in government.

    He also promised to increase the point at which people pay the top rate of tax to €50,000 for a single person, up from €35,300 in Budget 2019, in the interest of "fairness" for those earning average incomes.

    Transform some of our farms from carbon emitters into carbon sinks that produce timber

    Taoiseach Varadkar said Ireland had to move from "laggard to leader" on climate change. "We must and we will meet our 2030 targets for carbon emissions and renewable energy and we’ll do this by transforming Bord na Móna into a green semi-state generating renewable energy and managing waste rather than generating carbon," he said.

    Another key environmental measure will entail "investing in forestry to transform some of our farms from carbon emitters into carbon sinks that produce timber products which in turn help us to reduce plastics," he added.

    Brexit

    On Brexit, he supported the draft withdrawal agreement negotiated between the EU and the UK. "Let’s seal the deal and let’s get on to the next phase, which is managing the transition period and negotiating a new deep and close relationship with the UK," he said.

    Read more

    Farmers protest fresh forestry expansion in Co Leitrim

    Budget 2019: €200 increase in earned income credit for the self-employed

    Understanding your 2018 tax bill

    ‘Factories need to make a profit’ – An Taoiseach