The last of the cows were scanned last week so the picture regarding next spring is becoming clear. Older cows not in calf will be moved on before the year is out, while the younger empties will go back to grass next year. There will be less calving in 2022 than this year but I’m happy with the results. Most cows held to their first service which is a good sign of them.
I’ll be making a rough list of which cows won’t be returning to the bull next year and there’s positive pressure coming on the cows with the presence of a good crop of heifer calves. It’s good to have choices.
Only the cull cows have been weaned so far. Their calves were going out to grass but I housed them at the weekend to tidy things up a bit. They had a tendency to find alternative ways back to the shed so it was an easy decision.
With TB testing on the horizon I’m considering holding the rest of weaning until that is completed. Having fewer groups would make the yard work easier on the day and there’s no point adding extra stresses to cows and calves. Most of the calves will be housed by the time it comes around alright though.
In the meantime, I’m trying to take advantage of the continued grass growth – the final rotation is in sight. The first few paddocks are finished off from grazing and while in the past we would have a higher percentage of them closed by now, our grazing system has evolved to suit our circumstances.
There’s a bit more clarity emerging regarding what is expected of farmers from the climate action bill and its carbon budgets. The cuts may be hard to take but the clarity is welcome. It will take a bit more time for that to be translated into what that means for individual farms. Something that has crossed my mind is what savings are likely to be made regarding emissions if the Nitrates Action Programme is implemented in its toughest form? Also, what lead-in time is there going to be for the climate action bill?
The advisory sector will move front and centre as we implement these changes and Aidan Brennan’s article regarding Teagasc last week was thought-provoking and offered some constructive solutions.
With a new CAP on the way, is there an opportunity ahead to redistribute the resources that engage with farmers in a more efficient way? Is it worth looking at moving the time of year for BPS applications away from April and early May? If there’s going to be fundamental changes around how grass is utilised or the changes in practice around nutrient use in terms of both slurry and fertiliser then that time of year is critical. Should consideration be given to outsourcing the BPS work? It’s a tricky one to figure out because for most farmers that is their main engagement with Teagasc, if they have one at all.
The technical knowledge an adviser is expected to have will ramp up too. The REAP scheme gave a demonstration of that, especially the low-input grassland option. If that’s anything to go by, plant identification books could become a feature of the adviser’s arsenal yet.
With environmental, climate and labour issues all likely to come to the forefront, having an adviser presence or at least availability on farms in those critical months could play a critical role in helping farmers adapt.