The Duffy dogs, Patch and Bailey having fun in the clover

Rolling in the clover

Stand in the Gap

Kathleen Duffy

In these uncertain times, even the weather is not acting as it should. As I write this article we are in a heatwave, the cows will each drink about 120 litres of water a day and all other animals also increase intake. We have jumped paddocks so the cows can have the best shelter from the tall trees during the day.

The dry matter and the clover is very high in the grass in some paddocks, though some looking a little hungry where there is no clover. The multi species grassland is flying with the good weather, Thomas is cutting the thistles etc. off after the cows eat it down, as there is no safe spray yet.  Now with the long summer days, and with the spell of good weather we see lots of silage and bales of hay being made, a convenience for farmers when there is a sick calf or just to tide them over on a busy winter’s evening.

Last week we had a grass cover of 766 with a rotation of 22 days, stocked at 3.2 LU/Ha, the growth had slowed up to 59 with a demand of 48/Ha. Last month the covers got too high and this affected the protein. This week it should improve with the forecast of rain in the middle of the week. We spread protected urea on the grazing platform except the multi species, which only got a total of 16kgs N kg/Ha in the middle of June. The cows are milking well enough as we milk recorded this week. The scanning went well, a few disappointments, and it is great to chat with Padraig from FRS, as he has been coming here for 30 years. Football, community, farming and shows are all discussed.

Future proofing

Clover was the big talking point at the open day in Ballyhaise entitled “Future proofing Irish Dairy Production System” last week. As we walked around we could see the different paddocks, some over sown which seemed successful. Their suggestion for farms of 10% reseeds and 10% over sown seems realistic. It may be a challenge to maintain clover in certain soil type, but there is a huge potential to reduce N inputs in the BMW region.

The benefits include increased animal intake and performance, reduce chemical N and GHG emissions thereby increasing farm profits. They also covered herd health and fertility, EBI, soil health, managing costs. We didn’t have time to get round all so hopefully they will bring the boards to Virginia Show. There are 18,000 dairy farmers in Ireland producing 8 billion litres and exporting 80% of product, giving employment to thousands of people: we need to mind our industry.

Again climate change is big news, it seems that while droughts and heavy rain are nothing new, the short time between these events is new and they are more intense, this is what the experts say too, more years with more drought and heavier winter storms is what we are told is in store for us. It’s hard to say some of this is not already here. Farmers are taking advice on carbon farming and biodiversity within many catchment areas.

It is the time of year for Festivals and Shows. Oldcastle Show is over while we hope to get to Arva Show on 24th and our own Show is coming up on Wednesday, August 24, but we are having lots of activities in the centre before and after the Show. Flicking through the Virginia Show’s prize list or schedule of classes, it makes one aware of the diversity of skills that are alive and well in rural Ireland with over 500 different classes. Many, who work with animals and poultry love to show them, while others have interest in the farm and garden produce, fruit and flowers, home industries such as baking, jam making, wine making, honey, needlework or craftwork. Others are more skilled in the arts, painting, photography, handwriting, short story, with special sections for social inclusion of all age groups and levels. The children’s classes are very popular, as are the dog and pet classes. Maybe next year we can arrange summer classes to pass on these skills.

New pup

We got a new pup earlier this year, she is doing 100 miles an hour around the house. Nothing is sacred, flower pots, stones, mats, all chewed. She is starting to learn to be a cattle dog. She is a beautiful pup and gets forgiven for her misdemeanors. I would love to get a few hints on how to train her properly as we thought the old dog would train her, but they just keep playing when we bring them for the cows.

Have a great summer and be safe on the farm.