It’s been a tricky year for farm building work. Between issues with planning permissions, the delay in approval letters for TAMS III and the wet weather, it has led to a slowdown in investment on farms.
That being said, there is still some excellent work being completed on farms across the country.
Some of the most common builds that I have seen are farmers investing in calf accommodation, with a variety of options, from cheap but functional to high-class, labour-saving units featured.
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An issue with calf housing can be the short timeframe in which it is used, with some sheds lying empty until the February calving kicks off.
Meath dairy farmer, Eoin Corrigan, wanted to utilise one of his silage pits, which also lies empty come February, to save on concrete costs for his calf accommodation.
The result: a removable calf polytunnel on the silage slab (pictured above), which is built after the silage pit is emptied mid-winter and taken down again in the summer for second-cut silage.
With the concrete costs nulled by the silage clamp, Eoin built accommodation for 72 calves for a mere €16,000.
Rarely do we see such large-capacity beef sheds on private farms with a capacity for over 300 cattle.
With three feeding passages, two double tanks and a slurry aeration system, no expense was spared in completing this top-class unit.
Derrick Forde is well known within the pedigree and commercial show cattle circuit for producing All-Ireland winning beef cattle.
When converting over part of his farm to dairying, he utilised one of his existing beef suckler sheds and combined it with a Lely automatic milking system to create a cost-effective and labour efficient system.
While suckler sheds might be smaller in size to what other enterprises might build, they dominate a lot of the building works in the west and northwest.
TAMS aid, despite its flaws, can provide significant financial aid in doing so, with an example of this being the compact, well-finished, three-bay suckler shed featured below, built by a young Mayo farmer.
With ongoing issues in the country with TB and a question mark over calf exports, calf housing is something that will feature heavily in the ‘need to do’ list on a lot of dairy farms.
Ben Murphy, a dairy farmer operating in Co Cork, completed his bespoke calf shed a little over a year ago.
Kitted out with individual pens, a slatted wet area and JFC automatic calf feeders, calf accommodation received a serious overhaul on the farm, with labour cut dramatically by the investment.