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Crisis looming for suckler cow herd

Francis Farragher

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SUCKLER cow numbers could slump by as many as 300,000 over the next two to three year period, in the process undermining the whole future of the Irish beef industry, a Galway farm leader has warned this week.

The ‘savage’ winter and spring period of 2012-2013 has prompted many farmers to cut back on suckler cow numbers with most marts reporting a major increase in cull cow sales over the past couple of months.

Galway IFA Livestock Chairman, Tom Turley, told the Farming Tribune that the present indications suggested that over the course of this year, suckler cow numbers would be down by around 120,000, reducing the size of the national herd to well below the one million mark.

“The cost of keeping a suckler cow over the course of a year is in the region of €700 to €750 and like everything else if something isn’t paying, there’s only so long that farmers will stick with it.

“Things came to a head over the course of the past winter as feed stocks ran out and many farmers really struggled to keep their stock fed – a lot of suckler farmers have just decided to cut back on numbers for this coming winter,” said Tom Turley.

He said, that over recent weeks and months, the IFA had been trying to get across to Minister Coveney, the critical importance of putting a meaningful coupling payment in place that would help to balance the books of the suckler farmers.

Mr. Turley said that this payment would need to be paid at a minimum level of €150 per cow while he also called for a return of the Suckler Cow Welfare Scheme at its original level of €80 per cow.

“Unless these things happen, we will continue to see alarming reductions in our suckler herd numbers. If the suckler numbers keep falling at their present rate, this would be an absolute disaster for the Irish beef industry.

“At the end of the day, the suckler herd is the very basic building block for the whole industry. Unless the calves are being produced year-in, year-out, then the future of the Irish beef industry is in jeopardy – it is that serious,” said Tom Turley.

He also said that at a time when there was a growing emphasis on stimulating the economy, the value of each animal slaughtered, to the Irish economy, stood at €2,000.

“We are facing into a critical few months in terms of decision making on the nuts and bolts of the CAP agreement. The decision on coupling will be the biggest one for decades in relation to the future of our national suckler herd,” said Tom Turley.

 

Connacht Tribune

Saving a link with pre-famine days

Francis Farragher

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THE TEAM: Roofing contractors, Jamie and Eddie Costello; Conservation Consultant, Gerry McManus; Fearghus and Conor Deely, along with their ‘guest’, French student, Joachim Reveillon, pictured in front of their handywork on the old buildings at New Inn.

THERE’S an old saying in farming that from one generation to the next: “You should leave the place in a better state than when you got it,” and it’s a principle that a New-Inn farmer has adopted with a fair dash of enthusiasm.

Conor Deely, with the help of grant aid from the National Heritage Council, is in the process of conserving and repairing two stone buildings on his farm that he can date back to pre-famine times.

His grandfather, Patrick Deely, purchased the farm at New Inn around the time of the foundation of the State back in 1922, and always ensured that the farm and its outhouses were kept in spick and span shape.

“I suppose like everything else, with the passing of time the buildings gradually fell into a state of disrepair, but I remember them as a child being  well kept.

“I always had it in my head to try and bring them back as close as possible to the way they were, but knew that there would be a lot of work involved and a fair bit of money too,” said Conor.

This is where the Heritage Council special grants clicked in – available to farmers in the GLAS environmental scheme who have old buildings or sheds on their farm with strong links to the past.

The grants – up to 75% of the overall cost and with a ceiling of €25,000 – have enabled many farmers to ‘face into’ the prospect of ‘doing up’ an old shed or outhouse that in the past might have been wiped out with the belt of a machine bucket.

Back the years, the Deelys’ old buildings – located on the R348 New Inn to Kilconnell Road – had served many purposes such as animal housing, grain and wool storage, as well as a place to keep small pieces of farm machinery and tools. There was a place for a fire too, possibly for boiling spuds and grain for the pigs.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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Connacht Tribune

Dara takes Young Farmer award in a first for Galway

Francis Farragher

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Somewhere under the rainbow: Dara Killeen with his trophy for winning the 2020 Macra Young Farmer of the Year pictured on his farm with his parents, Charlie and Mary; fiancée Beatrix and daughter Isabella.

WHILE it mightn’t have been a good weekend for Galway on the All-Ireland hurling trail, a first ever national title did make its way west last week.

Dara Killeen (31), from Meelick on the banks of the Shannon, took the prestigious FBD-Macra Young Farmer of the Year award for 2020, putting Galway’s name on the cup for the first time since the awards began in 1999.

Son of well-known farmer and lifetime agri campaigner, Charlie Killeen, and his wife Mary, Dara is only in his second year of dairying, where he milks 150 cows on their 300-acre holding along the Shannon in East Galway.

“Traditionally, we always had been sheep and beef farmers, but back in 2017 the big decision was made to go into dairying.

“We brought in our own Jersey X calves, put them in-calf, and established the herd from there. We went for the Jersey crosses on the basis of their high butter fat and protein milk,” Dara told the Farming Tribune.

Moving from drystock to dairy farming is a huge decision for any young farmer but on a long-term basis, Dara felt that dairying offered the best chance of making a decent living from the land.

“It is a huge investment to make, both in terms of the herd and in the construction costs of the milking parlour, that was financed by selling off our existing stock and also with the help of TAMS (Targeted Agricultural Modernisation Scheme) grants,” said Dara.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App

Download the Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App to access to Galway’s best-selling newspaper.

Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

Get the Connacht Tribune Live app
The Connacht Tribune Live app is the home of everything that is happening in Galway City and county. It’s completely FREE and features all the latest news, sport and information on what’s on in your area. Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

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Connacht Tribune

New design aims to take the backache from those last scoops in feed bin

Francis Farragher

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Michael and Brenda Egan with their new ‘Tipsy Bin’ – designed to make life easier ‘on the back’ for farmers.

IT can be the bane of many farmers’ lives in their yard as they try to extract the last buckets of meal from their bin leading to one big stretch and at times a stretched back too.

Now, a Glenamaddy entrepreneur is fully confident that he has ‘cracked the problem’ after designing a meal bin that neatly leans over on a bevel to take the ache out of that final clean out.

A couple of years back while out on his brother’s farm, Michael Egan, noticed how awkward it was ‘to get to the bottom of the bin’ and in one of those Eureka moments he thought that there just ‘had to be a better way’.

An Operations Manager for Kingspan and Rom Plastics before that, Michael set about designing the new bin which also incorporates a flat base and a clever water draining hole to facilitate an easy wash out.

Along with his wife Brenda, they have set up a company called Megafab who are now distributing their new Tipsy Bin to locations around the country but mostly in direct sales to farmers.

“We are aiming to sell directly to farmers and feel that the bin at €299 (including VAT) is quite keenly price with a  small delivery charge, depending on location.

“Initially we had hoped to launch the product in March but then the COVID situation happened so we put it off until October and I’m delighted to say that we’re flying it so far. The bin is very practical and user-friendly,” Michael Egan told the Farming Tribune.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Get the Connacht Tribune Live app

The Connacht Tribune Live app is the home of everything that is happening in Galway City and county. It’s completely FREE and features all the latest news, sport and information on what’s on in your area. Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

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