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ON THE FARM: We can do well by doing good

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We can do well by doing good. I believe that this statement is something generations of Clare farmers are a testament to.

Through my work as a farmer, I meet some of the most incredible people making their livelihood off the land. Many of these people, depending on their farm enterprise would be better remunerated in other industries considering their skill set and wide range of competencies. Why do they persevere against all odds? Their perseverance is not derived from pure financial gain.

These men and women are practitioners of a craft that not only creates wealth for our nation but also helps heal our lands. They keep the Emerald Isle just that, green and healthy. If we look to the areas of our country that have seen a continued expansion in livestock farming especially around Munster. Munster has just over 59% of the national cow herd, Connacht has a little over 5% of the national herd. Which one has more water courses according to the EPA in the high water quality status? Munster has, it also has less watercourses in the bad water quality status category.

This should be shouted from the roof tops. Where you have healthy soils you have ruminants whether it be cows or sheep, they create a healthy top soil that holds onto nutrients. Where the buffalo and bison roamed the plains of North America here was some of the world’s deepest top soils, in their absence and with the introduction of large scale mono culture tillage followed soil erosion of a catastrophic scale.

Our farmers continue to build soil with their cattle and sheep just as their ancestors before them have done, by this they are doing good. By having their soils healthy it will also help sustain a healthy farm business where a good lifestyle and family income can be generated, thus the farmer can do well. This is a positive cycle of healthy soil through well managed livestock farming leading to healthy water courses and ecosystems that results in a resilient and prosperous rural Ireland.

This week we are housing some of the dry cows that were out grazing covers of grass on our drier fields. With the rainfall we have been getting, body condition could start to slip so we will house them. We have already received our yearly rainfall average by the start of this month so we have to be flexible with this winter grazing system. Being too much of a purist when it comes to cost cutting cannot come at the cost of a cow calving down fit but not fat. In the next week we will batch our cows in sheds according to calving date, this makes for very easy monitoring of cows as they come close to calving.

Scanning in September revealed an empty rate of 5.9% with a lot of the cows calving in the first month so space for calving cows will be at a premium and the system will be well tested.

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