Brexit loom­ing like a cloud over day-to-day re­al­i­ties of beef farm­ing


Irish Independent - Farming - - FARM OUR - ROBIN TAL­BOT

I AT­TENDED last week’s Tea­gasc Na­tional Beef con­fer­ence and, in my opin­ion, it was one of best of th­ese events that I have at­tended in a long time.

The pa­pers were all in­for­ma­tive and in­ter­est­ing, with plenty of take-home mes­sages.

Un­for­tu­nately, when we came to the last pa­per, en­ti­tled ‘Brexit Up­date – Pos­si­ble Im­pacts on the Ir­ish Beef In­dus­try’, pre­sented by Tea­gasc econ­o­mist Dr Kevin Han­ra­han, the mood in the room slumped.

I sup­pose a lot of us were hit by the re­al­ity that, no mat­ter how ef­fi­cient we try to be, if Brexit pans out as is cur­rently feared, we’re in big trou­ble; be­cause it looks as though the beef in­dus­try will be hit hard.

Mean­while, with just two cows left to calve, I think, at this stage, we can safely say, it has been our best calv­ing sea­son ever.

We had less than 1pc ca­su­al­ties at birth. And we had to do one C-sec­tion. The vast ma­jor­ity of the cows calved with­out any as­sis­tance.

Most of the calves have got their Bovipast booster shot.

We made a par­tic­u­lar ef­fort this year to make sure that shot was given as close as we could to within a month of the first shot, as is rec­om­mended. It meant a lit­tle bit of ex­tra work but I feel it was well worth do­ing.

Even as the calv­ing sea­son is end­ing, the new breed­ing sea­son is al­ready start­ing, with the turnout of our stock bulls this past week.

But, as I am writ­ing this, I am look­ing out the win­dow at the tor­ren­tial rain fall­ing, so it won’t be too long be­fore we bring in all the cows and calves.

We don’t have a lot of grass, since we missed our last round of fer­tiliser spread­ing, and the un­der­foot con­di­tions are de­te­ri­o­rat­ing by the day.

What­ever about the cows, I think the calves will be well happy to get into their snug win­ter quar­ters.

All the sheds are good to go, with any re­pairs that were re­quired done dur­ing the summer. So all we have to do is open the gates and let them in.

I think our beef bulls are thriv­ing re­ally well. Of course, they would want to be, since they are now eat­ing 13kg ra­tion.

We took two pens of th­ese bulls out of the shed last week, drafted off the five old­est ones and put them in a pen that had be­come avail­able. I just felt that, with the growth of the bulls, that the pen was get­ting a lit­tle crowded. In hind­sight, we prob­a­bly put in a cou­ple of bulls too many in the pen at the start.

Casting a crit­i­cal eye over the en­tire shed of bulls, there is def­i­nitely a few among them that will bring down our av­er­age. I think it’s a ge­netic is­sue; they just don’t seem to have the po­ten­tial to grow like their co­horts. We will have to have a good look at their dams.

The beef heifers are still out graz­ing. We gave th­ese their IBR vac­cine last week. As they went through the crush, we sorted them into two groups, one group of what I hope are growthy U-grade heifers and the sec­ond group are a type of heifer that I think will fin­ish at a lighter weight.

If we have to put in the cows early, all th­ese heifers will prob- MARIA KELLY

ably end up graz­ing out what grass the cows leave be­hind.

Our newly re-seeded fields have all got a post-emer­gent spray for weeds and are re­ally look­ing well at the mo­ment, with good cov­ers on them. But, as it stands, I’d say we have zero chance of graz­ing them.

That doesn’t con­cern me be­cause they are fields that have the po­ten­tial to be grazed very early in the spring.

We were lucky to get our win­ter bar­ley all sowed just be­fore Ophe­lia ar­rived. It was sowed in good con­di­tions.

All the sowed ground has been rolled off af­ter the seeder, ex­cept for a few of the head­lands which, ob­vi­ously won’t now be rolled. We sowed two va­ri­eties this year, In­fin­ity and Cas­sia. Both were sowed at 12 stone to the acre.

The next job now is to try to PHOTO: get a pre-emer­gent weed spray on it. With the weather con­di­tions at the mo­ment, it is hard to see when that will hap­pen.

We still have our win­ter oats to sow. But at least that ground is not ploughed yet. We will just have to wait and hope the op­por­tu­nity comes.


Robin Tal­bot farms in part­ner­ship with his mother Pam and wife Ann in Bal­la­colla, Co Laois

Cana­dian Brian Carscad­den judg­ing at the 35th Na­tional Dairy Show, Mill­street 2017.

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