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John Barry January/February Update 2024

ACRES actions

ACRES actions

  • Reviewing ACRES plan
  • Checking action deadlines
  • Planting new hedgerow is the next priority
Shed alterations to improve ventilation

Shed alterations to improve ventilation

  • FEC samples taken
  • Ventilation assessed in new cattle shed
  • Slits cut in side sheeting of main cattle shed for air inlet
Works carried out around the yard

Works carried out around the yard

  • Gutter repairs carried out
  • Old wall knocked & re-instated
  • New access roadway for calves added


John joined the ACRES scheme in 2022 and selected a number of actions to help water quality and to promote biodiversity on his farm. He installed a 1.5m riparian strip along 2 main water courses, selected 3 fields for extensively grazed pasture, installed a 2m grass margin in 6 paddocks, is protecting an archaeological monument on the farm and his attention is now turning to planting 2 new hedges on the farm before 31st March 2024.

John plans to plant a topped, predominately whitethorn hedge that will be stock proof and will be good for biodiversity on his farm. He will plant them as follows;

  1. Root up the clay using a digger to allow for easier planting; he will not spray off the area beforehand.
  2. Plant trees in a double staggered row, with at least 5 plants per metre.
  3. One tree every 50m will be allowed to grow up in the hedge and can be protected by a tree guard.
  4. Cut the trees at a slope, 1 inch above ground level.
  5. Press plastic/film over the trees to prevent weeds from growing directly around the trees
  6. Tuck in the plastic/film using a spade so that the clay will hold it down.
  7. Fence off the hedge on both sides to prevent livestock accessing the trees. There are a lot of rabbits on John’s farm so he will keep an eye out for them and add a lower strand of electric wire if required.

Before and after planting a hedge

Before and after planting a hedge

Watch the video below for more tips on planting a topped hedge:

Animal Health

FEC samples will be taken from the weanlings and yearlings. 31 yearlings are being out wintered on rape, grass and silage.

Out wintered store cattle

Figure 1: Out wintered store cattle

The ventilation was assessed in John’s new 4 bay shed. At the time there were 18 cows and 9 calves housed in the shed, which consists of a slatted tank with a straw lie back. The ventilation inlet is primarily an opening in the shed which measures 16.73m2 and the outlet is above the feed barriers is 44.65m2. Based on ventilation calculations, this is providing a sufficient air inlet and outlet for the stock housed, however care will need to be taken that no draught arises from the main opening. As the opening is at one end of the shed, a simple smoke bomb test will confirm if it is providing sufficient clean air to the other side of the shed.

John is delighted to have the extra housing and surplus slurry storage this year and will use it to house store cattle that are currently out wintered if the need arises.

John modified his main cattle shed and cut slits along the side of the shed to allow for a greater air inlet, as this was identified as an issue in the shed last year. He notes that no rain is blowing in on the cattle and that the shed feels less stuffy. Another added benefit of the slits is that they have provided more natural light into the shed.

Slits cut along shed to allow more air flow

Figure 2: Slits were cut in the side sheeting to allow more air enter the shed

Health & Safety

John took the opportunity this month to carry out some repairs around the yard. In his visit from local ASSAP advisory Claire Mooney, it was recommended that John repair the gutters along the main entrance into the yard to reduce the amount of water lying on the yard. He installed new gutters and the downpipes are directed towards a grass area so that they are away from the concrete yard.

New gutters installed along shed

Figure 3: New gutters have been installed

There was also an old wall alongside the same yard that John knocked and replaced. It was cracked and unsteady and he was worried that it may fall and cause injury if left in place.

Wall repaired

Figure 4: Old wall has been knocked and new wall erected

He also added a concrete area to one of the sheds to tidy it and help keep the area clean.

After building the new shed, John has also designed a small access area around it for the autumn calves to use to walk to grass paddocks during the day. It means that they no longer have access to the main yard and shed area, and that he can move the tractor around for feeding without having to move wires which is saving him time.