I listened with interest to the results of the Citizens’ Assembly on Biodiversity Loss and I do not feel at all committed to them.
Farming in harmony with nature is important to us. Long before it became fashionable, we undertook various projects to support wildlife on the farm. More recently, we have enthusiastically embraced every environmental program open to us.
I have an issue called Biodiversity Loss. It’s a negative – never a good place to start. Why don’t we call it something like “Biodiversity Gain” or “Helping Biodiversity”?
So much of the language is antagonistic. There’s little chance of getting through to those on the other end of the spectrum if you don’t even connect to the middle.
Of course, we are all aware that more needs to be done. But don’t camouflage everyone with the same brush. Honey catches more bears than vinegar. Don’t underestimate the cumulative effect of positivity.
In the meantime we made our first silage cut last week. It puffed up really well. We tedded it after mowing. But when we rowed it up in front of the combine I was a bit disappointed with the quality. There is quite a bit of yellowing at the base.
This happened fairly quickly and is probably related to the wet weather followed by the explosion in growth.
Apparently I misjudged the amount of grass. In hindsight, I should have cut it a week earlier. We’ll know more when it’s tested.
In general, we need about 1,200 t of silage up to the winter. When the pit has calmed down a bit, we’ll do our calculations to see how much Second Cut we need to take.
Part of our second cut is not really second cut: it is taken from previously grazed fields. In reality, we mow very few fields twice – it’s more like some are cut earlier and some are cut later.
To make better use of our manure (and lower our fertilizer bill), we’ve made a change.
The more we use the trailing hose or trailing shoe, the more I see the importance of diluting the slurry well to get the most out of it and make sure it penetrates the soil immediately.
So we bought 50m of 2″ flexible hose and hooked it up to our sewage pump and added extra water from our sewage tank to the slatted tanks to make the slurry easier to spread.
Once the silage was in, we grazed the headlands with the weaned cows just to clean up. This week, when the weather is nice, all systems with the liquid manure barrels will work!
Then we could calculate how much soil we have to give up for second-cut silage. At this stage we hope to fertilize them with two bags of 18-6-12/ac as we did with the first cut and top up with protected urea up to 80 units of nitrogen.
So far we have managed to stick to our fertilizer budget for the year. It seems to work. We have never used so little artificial fertilizer this time of year and we have a lot of grass.
We actually took out two paddocks and put them in the silo pit.
Two more paddocks have been taken out and depending on the weather in a few weeks we will either mow them into hay or make wrapped silage. A few bales of hay are always handy!
We recently weaned and weighed a batch of bull calves. There were a few extremes at both ends of the spectrum, but there was a good, solid group in the middle that came in at 420-430kg, giving them an average weight gain of 1.3-1.4kg/day from birth bestows. They are well on target of 400 kg carcass at 16 months.
The bulls are looking stronger than we’re used to with slightly less form. The main thing is that they bring the scales down in the factory.
We will wean the remaining bull calves this week. Next week we want to wean all heifer calves.
When the cows have settled in after weaning, we will sort out any that need to care for their feet. Anyone with chronic foot problems will not be bred again.
With the cows, the priority now is to prepare them well for what we hope will be a successful calving season.
Robin Talbot farms in Ballacolla, Co. Laois with his mother Pam and wife Ann
https://www.independent.ie/business/farming/beef/beef-advice/robin-talbot-my-problem-with-the-citizens-assembly-on-biodiversity-loss-41694583.html Robin Talbot: My problem with the Citizens’ Assembly on Biodiversity Loss