Tag­ging bomb­shell will push some farm­ers over the edge

TOP DOG

Irish Independent - Farming - - FARM OUR - JOHN FA­GAN

Parachut­ing manda­tory elec­tronic tag­ging of fac­tory lambs on top of farm­ers with­out first con­sult­ing them is a text book way of how not to bring about changes in sheep farm­ing.

The bomb­shell dropped by the Min­is­ter for Agri­cul­ture is not go­ing to go down well with burnt out sheep farm­ers who will view it as yet an­other cost and an­other layer of bu­reau­cracy.

To put it in per­spec­tive, my tag costs will in­crease from €300 for the tip tags to over €2000 for the elec­tronic tags. That’s an ex­tra €1,700 for a tag that will re­main in the lambs’ ears for less than 12 hours.

A scheme to get farm­ers in­volved in pro­tect­ing and im­prov­ing the sheep in­dus­try in Ire­land should have been im­ple­mented along­side an in­crease in the sheep wel­fare pay­ment to €50 per head.

This tag­ging plan is in line with our Euro­pean col­leagues who also have to ap­par­ently bring in EID tag­ging of all sheep.

But the pro­posed once-off ‘sup­port’ of €50 to buy tags is in­sult­ing to farm­ers. I ini­tially thought that this was a joke.

Com­bined with the ‘clean sheep pol­icy’, this EID tag­ging pro­posal could just be the straw that breaks the camel’s back. More and more farm­ers I talk to are con­sid­er­ing ei­ther re­duc­ing sheep num­bers or are ex­it­ing the busi­ness al­to­gether.

They are fed up with layer af­ter layer of red tape, rules and reg­u­la­tions and are in­creas­ingly weigh­ing up the op­tions. Some are even con­sid­er­ing rent­ing out parts of their farms. I don’t like to be neg­a­tive but there is only so much a farmer can cope with.

It seems to me that the only farms that will sur­vive go­ing for­ward are those that are able to em­ploy a sec­re­tar­ial staff ca­pa­ble of keep­ing up with com­pli­ance and reg­u­la­tion.

As each year goes by, smaller op­er­a­tors will be­come squeezed and squeezed un­til such time they are only life­style or hobby farm­ers.

On the farm­ing front, it’s great to see at last the im­prove­ment in the weather.

I have re­signed my­self to the fact that I won’t be able to close off any fields for si­lage un­til the end of May and I’ll aim to cut si­lage and hay through­out July, tak­ing fields of hay­lage where pos­si­ble.

I dosed my lambs for the ne­ma­todirus worm and gave them a min­eral/cobalt dose. I also cov­ered the ewes with a fluke and worm dose.

They are do­ing well con­sid­er­ing what they’ve been through. It’s cru­cial now to keep them thriv­ing and pro­gress­ing as much as they can.

Black leg

I gave a booster black leg vac­ci­na­tion to the breed­ing rams. Rams can get for­got­ten about and it’s im­por­tant to keep an eye on their well-be­ing.

I’ve found that I can lose the odd ram to black leg at this time of year as they be­gin to thrive af­ter the win­ter so the booster vac­cine is just a pre­cau­tion­ary shot.

I also vac­ci­nate the pet lambs with an 8-in-one vac­cine. I have a good few less this year as my lamb­ing squad vol­un­teers were ex­cel­lent at adopt­ing lambs to ewes that had lost lambs.

Nev­er­the­less, I’m left with about 50 pets and I’ll get them out as soon as I can.

Some peo­ple keep them in to fin­ish them off in­side, but I find that if I put them in a handy pad­dock and give them a bit of meal they tip along nicely.

How­ever, it’s im­por­tant to have them cov­ered for clostridial dis­eases and also keep them sep­a­rate from the main flock so they can get pref­er­en­tial treat­ment.

In the mean­time, we’re busy tidy­ing up af­ter what has been the worst win­ter in liv­ing mem­ory for a lot of peo­ple, both young and old. It’s hard to dig deep into the en­ergy re­serves to get this done but I find that un­less you kick on and tidy up af­ter lamb­ing it only drags on into the sum- mer and of all the years, this is one when I want to put the mem­ory of last spring firmly into the past.

Now that things have set­tled and the ewes and lambs are where they want to be, it’s time so take a break and get a breather your­self — I’m fairly cer­tain you de­serve it.

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