Dealing with Docks. If you can eliminate them, more grass will grow in their place

DocksThe amount of grass grown on farms would increase if farmers eliminated docks from their swards, according to TP Whelehan’s Chris Maughan.
Speaking at a Teagasc Better Beef Farm walk in Co. Meath, the Technical Director said as the amount of docks increase in a sward the amount of grass grown falls at the same rate.
“If you eliminate docks more grass will grow in its place,” he said.
Maughan also spoke about research trials carried out in Teagasc Kildalton, which showed that grass production falls as docks increase in both first and second cut silage. Let’s say you have 10t of DM grass cut, he said, if 50% of the field is covered in docks and 50% is covered in grass, you’ll harvest 5t of grass and 5t of docks. If 90% of the field is covered in grass and 10% is covered in docks, you’ll harvest 9t of grass and 1t of docks, he said.
The TP Whelehan representative also said that farmers can get very good levels of dock control if the manage the spraying protocol correctly. The key thing is getting the timing of the spraying right. Spraying at the correct stage of growth is important. “Docks can have a large taproot, up to 1m in length at times, and this can make the weed difficult to eliminate,” he said. Because of this, he said, it is essential to spray the docks at correct growth stage.
Maughan also said that docks should be sprayed when they are green and leafy, as spraying when the seed head is formed (reproductive stage) will result in a lower kill. When the dock is at its reproductive stage, more energy is supplied to the top of the plant and as a result the chemical will not be taken up as well by the root, he said. “The weed killer will still work but you will get poor long term control.”
For swards including clover, Maughan said there were two clover-safe products available on the market, these are Eagle and Prospect. However, he said there are no clover safe products currently available for nettle control and if spraying for nettles, clover can be easily reintroduced into the sward through over sowing into existing swards. Clover can be spread using a fertiliser spreader, onto the surface of the field. It doesn’t need to be rolled or stitched in- clover will germinate on the surface.

How to Control Parasites in Young Cattle

Parasite infections can badly affect growth rates in young cattle, writes Gordon Peppard, programme advisor for the Teagasc Calf to Beef Programme.

How to Control Parasites in Young CattleIn young stock, severe infection can reduce growth rates by up to 30pc. Infection by parasites is one of the main reasons for the lack of thrive in young cattle at grass for their first grazing season. The main parasites present are gut (stomach) worms, lungworms (hoose), liver fluke and rumen fluke.

In young stock, severe infection can reduce growth rates by up to 30pc. This will make it very difficult to achieve target weights for age.

Calves in their first season at grass have no immunity against stomach worms or lungworms. Adult cattle are less affected by these parasites. The exceptions are adult cattle that had no previous exposure to the parasite and therefore could not develop natural immunity, or animals whose immune systems have been weakened by disease or poor nutrition.

The following are the key factors in controlling parasites in young animals.
Identify the risk

Young stock, particularly artificially reared calves at grass for the first time, are most at risk of infection as they are eating reasonable amounts of grass and have very little immunity developed.
But other grazing cattle exposed to worms may also suffer production losses.
Permanent grassland grazed by livestock in the previous couple of months poses a very high risk of infection.
In an ideal world, young animals should graze new reseeds, after grass where silage has been cut or grass that has had no stock for greater than six months.
These options are not always possible so you need to work with what is available.
A high stocking rate of young calves produces high pasture contamination. Worm build up on grass over the grazing season and infective stages generally peak from mid- summer onwards.

Correct treatment

Monitoring of animals is a critical strategy that can be used.
Regular weighing to monitor average daily gains and growth rates is vital. Ideally use a scales but alternatives such as weight bands can be used as a guideline.
A weight gain for calves of 0.7 kgs plus per day indicates a very low risk from parasites. Undertake to regularly dung sample to determine the number of worm eggs present. Talk to your vet or local veterinary laboratory on this method.
Minimising risks

If there are sheep on the farm, mixed grazing of cattle and sheep or alternative yearly grazing’s with cattle and sheep can give a dilution effect of the worms present.
Use a leader follower system where the calves graze the paddock first and are followed by larger cattle, thereby reducing the risk of the older cattle infecting the younger calves.
Don’t force the calves to graze the paddocks out too tight, keep the paddock size small, so that they are not in them for too long, introduce them to covers of seven to eight centimetres high grass and remove them after three days, letting in bigger cattle to clean out the paddocks.
Strategic use of wormers (anthelminthics)

Treatments are generally focussed on young stock to provide cover for the first couple of months at grass to minimise pasture contamination. Different product types have different lengths of suppression depending on whether you are using white drenches, yellow drenches, avermectins or boluses.
Check with your vet to establish the period of cover that you have.
Avoid resistance

Use products correctly, avoid under dosing animals, weigh cattle if possible to get correct weight. Check dosing equipment to ensure correct amount is applied. Follow the labels instructions.
Good control can be achieved by using anthelminthics responsibly, focussing on treating individuals or groups at appropriate times and recognising that animals can thrive without frequent treatments.

In all cases it is advisable to discuss a control strategy with your own vet as no two farms are the same. -Indo Farming

Getting Milk Quality Right – Top Tips from a Top Dairy Farm

The winners of the 2015 National Dairy Council and Kerrygold Milk Quality Awards did a number of simple things right on their dairy farm, according to the judges.

Geting Milk Quality RightDon Crowley from Teagasc West Cork said the overall hygiene on the dairy farm is excellent, with a very good solid and structured cleaning procedure.

He detailed how the yards, housing and roadways are kept clean and well maintained and the milking is stress free with a good routine, regular milking times, along with good handling and drafting facilities.

The constant use of information, with milk quality issues monitored through text messages received from Drinagh Co-op and reports from milk recording and ICBF.

Data is recorded in the milking parlour on a whiteboard and the chart in the dairy and use of a daily diary.

Top tips for good quality milk
• Milk recording
• Preparing for milking
• High SCC cows identified and steps taken to treat them
• Regular used of hot water
• Plant is descaled weekly
• Milk is cooled to a low temperature
• Herd health is top class

During milking, gloves are always worn and every cow gets wiped with a paper towel every milking. If teats are dirty, they are washed and dried.

After milk recording any cow with a high cell count is checked with the CMT test kit to find the high SCC quarter. It is then treated until cured and the cow is checked again with the CMT kit to ensure she has cured before her milk is allowed back into the tank.

The parlour on the dairy farm has a cluster flush system that rinses out and disinfects clusters after each cow. This helps prevent any cross contamination between a high cell count cow and the next cow to the milked

After Milking
After milking, clusters are washed on the outside first.
The plant is then rinsed out with 400L of cold water, the first 100L are let to run to waste with the filter in, then the filter is removed and the remaining 300L is circulated and checked to make sure it is clear.

Hot water is then drawn through the plant and let to run to waste until the returning water is very hot. Then a hot wash solution (Hydrosan liquid) of 200L is made up and the plant is washed with this for 8 to 10 minutes only.

This hot wash solution is then retained for the morning wash.
The plant is then rinsed out with 300L of cold water, so it is ready for the morning milking.

After the morning milking, the procedure is repeated, except this time with the cold solution retired from the previous evening and the solution is then dumped after the second use.

The bulk tank is operated on an automatic wash system using detergent and descaler from small drums so the volume used can be checked. Hydrogen is the product used.

Vigilance is Required on Farms During the Busy Summer Months

Vigilance is Required on Farms During the Busy Summer Months.

Farm VigilanceCaution has been urged working with tractors, vehicles and machinery on farms, with new analysis showing they were a key factor in 80pc of deaths this year.

Dr John McNamara, Teagasc health and safety specialist, said one death or injury is one too many and vigilance was needed with the busy summer work season and school holidays on the horizon.

In the first five months of this year five people have lost their lives in farm accidents, compared with six in the same period last year, and 12 in 2014.

“Reversing the recent trend of farm deaths, due to knock-downs or being crushed by tractors and machinery, will only be achieved by strong farmer vigilance,” he said.

“Farmers should also pay particular attention to parking tractors safely, applying the handbrake and lowering hydraulic equipment, to reduce the safety risk to themselves and others.”
-Indo Farming, 7th June.

The Top 10 Summer Hurdles for Every Irish Farmer

From sourcing straw to farmer tans, the summer can be a stressful time on Irish farms. Rachel Hussey gives us the lowdown on what to expect from our farmers in the coming months.

1 (2)1. Will the sun ever come out?
You’ve endured the spring showers and now they don’t seem to be stopping and worse, the drains you put in last summer aren’t working like you thought they would. Disaster. What could possibly fix this? Sun. Nothing like the sun to get the grass growing.

2. Will it ever rain?
Ok, we got the sun but lads, it’s a bit too dry now isn’t it? Nothing like a drop of rain to get the fields to green up eh? We need a balance and Irish weather isn’t helping.

3. When can I spread the fertiliser?
Timing is key. You want to make the most of the possible grass growth but you don’t want your work washed away in the run off from the rain. Stress ensues.

4. “I wonder has Pat over the road started cutting?”
Nothing like the competition between neighbours about who will haul out the silage gear first and you keep an eye out from early May.

5. “What will we make the boys for their supper?”
The lads have been hard at work cutting and packing silage all day and they need to eat. Panic is inevitable. What kind of spread will you put out for them? Will they like a salad? What about some chips? Don’t even start me on those picky eaters – cue mammy shouting, “They’ll eat what’s put in front of them”. One plus though – the house is filled with the fancy biscuits.

6. Picking stones
The weather is fine. The land is dry. When will you get a more ideal time to pick stones than now? No one is quite sure what these stones are used for and the mystery will forever exist.

27. Farmers tan
You’ve been out all summer and your shoulders have been covered but your arms have been bare all season. What else can this mean but the unfortunate farmers tan creeping in? You will spend all summer trying to even this out but I mean why bother? Embrace it.

8. The second cut
The first cut of silage is done and you’ve noticed that you don’t have enough. You’ve decided to set a few paddocks aside and hope that the growth will take off with them. Now to decide when to get it done.

9. Who to get straw from?
The end of summer is fast approaching and you’re not entirely sure how you are going to get some straw to keep the cattle warm over those long winter nights. Time to start researching suppliers in the area.

310. Ploughing Championship
Nothing closes the summer quite like the Ploughing Championship. You pile the family into the car and head off at the crack of dawn ready to stock up on your yearly supply of stationery. What could be better?

Farm Incomes Rise Despite Collapsing Milk Prices

Average farm incomes up by 6% to € 26,526 Teagasc says but income on dairy farms is down by 4%

Despite a collapse in milk prices, average farm incomes in the Republic rose by 6 per cent to € 26,526 last year, according to Teagasc.

Farm incomes rise despite collapsing milk pricesThe group’s National Farm Survey shows average income on dairy farms fell by 4 per cent to € 63,020 amid a 20 per cent fall in prices.

The study is widely regarded as the definite measure of agricultural income in the Republic.

It suggests dairy farmers compensated for declining prices by expanding production, which was facilitated by the lifting of EU milk quotas.

Almost one in three dairy farms increased their milk production by 20 per cent or more, with just one-fifth of farms choosing to reduce output.

“The lower milk price in 2015 meant that dairy farmers had to increase their milk output by at least 20 per cent to just maintain their income at the 2014 level,” said Dr Thia Hennessy, head of the Teagasc farm survey.

In contrast to milk prices, cattle prices rose between 6 and 16 per cent depending on animal type.

As a result, average farm income on cattle farms rose between 29 and 34 per cent to €12,904.

The relatively low figure in this sector reflects the predominantly part-time nature of beef farming.

What Average Price Can Dairy Farmers Expect Over the Next Five Years?

Perhaps the most pertinent question for dairy farmers that was asked this week at an international dairy conference was what average price can they expect over the next five years.

However, few were prepared to answer the question.

what average price can dairy farmers expectDavid Dobbin, the outgoing Chief Executive of Dale Farm, said he does not see the current rate of three-year cycles continuing.

“The last cycle was helped by Europe having quotas. Now, the EU farmer can respond in a way he could not previously and that will cap the recovery.”

He warned that European dairy farmers are facing an era of quite low average milk prices for the next five years and said he would be shocked to see a spike in milk prices again, unless a severe crisis such as weather hits.

Making a prediction, he said low 20s, with a maximum of mid 20s for the immediate future. “The days of the big peaks are gone for five to 10 years”.

Adriaan Krijger, Dutch National Committee of the International Dairy Federation, reminded the audience at the DIN conference in London how experts, like himself, thought the Dutch milk price would be 40c/L in the past few years.

“In the Netherlands, we were very optimistic about global demand and the growth of world population. Now milk is a commodity and commodity tends to get lower in price – therefore, the dairy price will be low unless we are able through innovation and branding get a higher price.

“Only 15% of Friesland Campina milk is branded product. You need a lot of innovation and branding to have a positive impact on price.”

As Silage Season Draws Close – Think Safety First

Silage Season SafetyAs silage season draws ever closer, it’s time to turn our attention to one of the most dangerous parts of farming – using machinery.

Changing habits to avoid risky shortcuts with machinery could be a life saver this silage season.

If a machine becomes blocked while cutting grass, or baling silage, disengage the PTO and turn off the tractor before attempting to clear the blockage.

When working on a silage clamp, it’s best to work slowly in order to avoid a tip. Always check trailer lights before towing on the road and take care to maintain a safe speed especially on narrow road.

Tractors and machinery are the main causes of farm accidents in Ireland, so with silage season beginning it’s important to be safety conscious.

Before cutting, ensure that all tractors and machinery are in good working order:

  • Make sure that the machine is in a safe operating condition. All guards and safety devices must be in place and functioning correctly.
  • Make sure that machines and trailed equipment are correctly attached to the tractor or vehicle.
  • When attaching a machine, take the correct position in order to avoid getting crushed.
  • Always stop the machine and the tractor before attempting to carry out maintenance work or to free a blockage.
  • Make sure that the machine is adequately supported before working underneath.
  • Always turn off the PTO (Power Take Off) and the tractor before attempting to free a blockage or adjust a machine.

With cutting often going on long into the night, it’s important to ensure that all lights, mirrors and wipers are functioning correctly.

It’s also important to ensure that the brakes on the tractor are in good working order and that the handbrake is fully operational.

Farmers should take care when working with overhead power lines and take precautions to ensure that machinery doesn’t come into contact with the power lines.

Irish Farming Lacks ‘Practically Trained Farm Managers’ – Irish Farm Managers Association

Irish Farming Lacks Practically Trained Farm ManagersThe Irish farming industry is lacking practically trained farm managers, according to the Irish Farm Managers Association’s Chairman Gerry Twomey.
Speaking to the Teagasc Dairy Farm Management class in Moorepark on Wednesday, the Chairman said the education system is too focused on academic learning.
And as a result, some farmers are struggling to find practically trained managers to fill farm managers roles on farms.
Twomey also said that young farmers and managers need to be incentivised to allow them to follow a career in farming.
He said that the association has been looking for quotas or installation aid for farm managers for the last 20 years.
If there was some sort of an incentive it would be great, but it would have to be tailored to farm managers needs.
Also speaking at the event, former Chairman of the group, John Fitzgerald mirrored Twomey and said that young farmers need incentives.
But, he also said it was important for farm managers to take small steps to build a solid foundation, rather than taking a big leap and finding out that it wasn’t the right move for you.
“It is important to grow slowly, the steps you missed on the way up might not be there when you come back down,” he said.
“It is more important to take small steps and grow incrementally, you have a much greater chance of succeeding,” he said.
However, he said that young farmer managers need to remember the importance of a work life balance, as it is very important to live and have a good lifestyle.

New Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed Sets Out His Stall

Minister for Agriculture Food and the Marine Michael CreedNew Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed Sets Out His Stall

The new Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed has said that he had no advanced inkling that he would be appointed to the position.

Speaking on C103fm the Cork North West TD said that the Dail was due to reconvene half past five and the bells had begun to ring.

“I said ‘that’s it, another ministerial bus missed’. Literally as the bells were ringing the Taoiseach’s office rang looking for me and the Dail was put back by three quarters of an hour.

“So that’s how it happened. I had no advanced inkling of it.”

Minister Creed said that he is looking forward to working with the industry and with farming bodies and to try do his best for the country for an industry that is a multi-billion euro one.

He then paid tribute to Simon Coveney, his predecessor and said that did an enormous amount of work.

There was a time in previous administrations when the industry was collectively referred to as a sunset industry.

“In fact I see it as entirely the opposite way it’s been an engine for our economic recovery. There’s a great job of work to be done there in building a coalition between those inside the farm gate and those outside it.

“We are a trading economy, exports are our lifeblood and the more we can export the better prices are secure.

“All the commodities are in difficulty in terms of prices paid to the primary producer, that’s a huge challenge.

“The State isn’t a purchaser of milk or beef, but there are issues in terms of policy we will be working on to ensure that those people can get a just reward from the huge endeavours they put in.

Minister Creed said that he has had contact already with IFA and the other farming organisations and that he’s looking forward to meeting them.

He said that young farmers are the future of agriculture and the age profile of farming is a concern.

It’s great to see places for example Darrara agricultural college bursting at the seams with people wanting to have a career in agriculture.

“I think it’s the ultimate vote of confidence by young people and it’s also a signal to people like myself that we have to make sure that these people can earn a decent living from this.

“I see it as my duty, that wherever a good idea comes from, I’m not prejudiced against it because it may not have originated in my department or Fine Gael.

“I’ll work with anybody that has a decent, constructive viewpoint that serves the industry well. So, independents, opposition… I’m open to good ideas from any quarter,” he concluded.