The excellent grazing conditions of recent weeks have disappeared. We had been making great progress in getting all the bought in young cattle used to going out by day and coming in for a fill up of silage in the evening.

I hope they will remember the routine when everything dries up! But the change to mild, wet weather has its positives. The bitter cold meant that there was no recovery in the freshly grazed paddocks and the slurry was just sitting on the ground.

Now the whole place has greened up as the soft moisture washes in the slurry and stimulates grass growth.

However, we are going to get through a lot more silage than I had thought likely while we could graze by day. As I mentioned, in last summer’s dry weather, we had made a lot of hay which we are now mixing with silage and brewers’ grains in the diet feeder.

Mention of diet feeders reminds me that I had read of layoffs and lack of profitability at the recently Alltech-acquired Keenan of Borris business.

I have had a Keenan diet feeder of one model or another for more years than I can remember – certainly more than 30. During all those years I have found their machines highly reliable, with an efficient and attentive after sales service delivered with a friendly courtesy. I hope they continue in business and remain as part of the Irish farm machinery industry.


On the tillage side, the dry spell had made for excellent ground conditions in getting the first split of nitrogen out on the oilseed rape and winter barley.

We have had the protected urea with sulphur stored in 375kg bags since early winter, so I was slightly nervous that it may have caked over the months and be difficult to spread. In fact, I needn’t have worried.

While it cost more than the quotes now doing the rounds, the fact that I had it on the place while everyone speculated on whether fertiliser would be available at all this spring gave me some peace of mind.

We are now wondering when and where to place the order for the rest of the requirements. Part of my hesitation is caused by wondering whether I should switch from protected urea to the much dearer on a unit basis Calcium Ammonium Nitrate (CAN).