For­got­ten tribe of beef farm­ers, sur­viv­ing on their off-farm in­come

Irish Examiner - Farming - - FARMMARKETS -

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.

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