Forgotten tribe of beef farmers, surviving on their off-farm income
The off-farm income (I’ve said this before, and I’ll say it again) was the greatest burden that was ever saddled onto the back of the farmer. Instead of ensuring that he or she was making enough from the land, this option was dreamt up, whereby after a whole week of work on the farm, another practically full week is done someplace else, thus ensuring that you make enough to survive.
It’s now taken for granted that those of us in beef farming have one, indeed we cannot survive without one. Here we are, rearing and finishing the greatest of cattle, and we cannot make a reasonable level of income without a wife or husband rushing off the farm for a number of hours each day.
The off-farm income. We should never have fallen for that one. We should have resisted, and demanded a decent standard of living from the start. In no other profession will you find such slavery. There is no ‘off-doctor income’, or ‘off-dentist income’, or ‘off-pilot income’, yet we are saddled with one and expected to keep the head down.
Well we shouldn’t be keeping our heads down, with regards to beef. Heads should be rolling. We deserve better, because we produce the best. And in Macroom mart on Saturday, some of the prize winners were Mick and Jo Healy from Aghabullogue with six smashing Limousin bulls weighing 404kg and selling for €1,105.
Also Michael D McCarthy from Kealkill was amongst the prize winners scooping prizes for both his Charolais heifers and Charolais bull weanlings. I noticed on Saturday that Michael’s bulls and heifers were remarkably docile, which of course, is not always the case with weanlings. Indeed some can be quite lively, to say the least.
“It all came from the Charolais bull,” Michael told me. “He was a docile old creature and he produced calves very similar to himself.” Moving on from weanlings and to the general sale of cattle, in Macroom on Saturday dry cows sold from €160 under to €585 over the kilo. Hereford and Aberdeen bullocks sold from €240 to €500 over their weight. Continental bullocks sold from €310 to €680 over the kilo. Weanling bulls made from €300 to €700 over the kilo, while weanling heifers sold from €285 to €630 over the kilo. Skibbereen mart on Friday had a big sale of weanlings, with mart manager Tom McCarthy, reporting “a good trade” for all stock. Weanling bulls here sold from €2.20/kg to €3.10/kg. Dry cows in Skibbereen sold from €100 under to €480 with the kilo.
Bullocks made from €220 to €800 with the weight, while heifers made from €220 to €550 with the kilo.
Best weanling heifer at nacroom mart, this limousin heifer, 380kg, €890; included are Richard Forbes, owner; John O’nahony, mart manager, and Noel ncSweeney, judge.