Everything in life is relative. We sold some fat cows last week. Some of them earned over €2,000. It seemed like a fair price for a culled cow.
In the evening we got a truckload of fertilizer delivered. Last year, this load would have cost 9,400 euros. This year it was €22,000.
The reality is that no matter how shocked we all are about the price of fertilizer, we have no choice but to come up with a plan on how we’re going to deal with it.
So last week I went to the local Teagasc Spring Grass event. They didn’t have a silver bullet, but it was informative and worth attending. The main takeaway message was the relative values of different fertilizers.
When I got home we sat down and formulated an action plan for the first six months of the year.
On the lawn instead of our usual first application of 2 bags/ha 18-6-12 we use 1¼-1½ bags depending on the soil index of the field. For follow-up applications, we use urea as needed.
On the silage bottom we will be running 3,000 gallons/ac of manure and two bags of 18-6-12 and topping it up with urea to bring the total nitrogen units to almost 100.
On the silage floor, if we had done it like other years and used CutSward, it would have cost us €150/a at 3½ sacks/ac, but the combination of 18-6-12 and urea comes to €129/ac.
The only change we will be making to the grain is to use urea instead of CAN.
The logic is that if we apply expensive fertilizer, then the time to apply is when growth is most active, which is the first half of the year.
When the first cut silage is safely in the pit we will have a better idea of our grass situation and will reassess the situation.
For example, we could wean our cows earlier than usual and feed our bulls earlier; we still have some good quality straw in the barn that could be used as a buffer for the weaned cows when the grass gets very narrow.
One thing is certain: at the current price level, we cannot apply as much fertilizer as usual.
We must also keep in mind that other daily costs will likely be higher this year due to higher energy costs.
So the bottom line is that we’re capping how much we’re willing to spend on farm operations this year, and we’re sticking to it, even if it means delaying some planned jobs.
On the positive side, all of our cows are scanned and we’ve never had a better scan. Overall, 95 percent were pregnant, with almost the same number of cows scanned with twins as empty.
Those who were not pregnant were drafted for fattening. So the only cows that go out to pasture will be the ones scanned in calf.
We let some cows out with bull calves last week and weighed them all before they were driven out. We will be logging these weights to the ICBF website for record if and when a new BEEP system is announced.
We also cut the tails of the cows. I hate seeing stocks with long dirty cocks in the field. I also think it’s annoying for them as they can get caught in wire or bushes or gates.
Before we remove stock from homeblock, this week we’re conducting the dreaded TB herd test. After that we hope to let the cows and calves out in large numbers.
We are optimistic that the actions we are taking will help us overcome the hurdles we will face in 2022, but I fear this may create a different problem for us in 2023.
Last week we received a letter from the Department entitled “Key Elements of the New Strategic Plan 2023-2027 for the Cap” stating that for some of the programs it intends to calculate the payment based on the 2022 storage quotas.
I look forward to attending one of the CAP information sessions that the Department is organizing for this month.
Whether accidentally or on purpose, I have found that the region hardest hit by CAP cuts has a low density of meetings – with just one meeting scheduled for the entire south-east.
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-why-and-how-we-are-putting-a-ceiling-on-our-farm-running-costs-41410402.html Robin Talbot: Why and how we limit our farm operating costs