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Set yourself a Farming Resolution for the New Year

21 December 2017
Type Media Article

By Anthony O'Connor, Teagasc Adviser, Galway/Clare Regional Unit

"Nothing changes on New Year's Day, on New Year's Day".

This line from a song by the band U2 some 30 years ago says it all, nothing changes on New Year's Day, but everything needs to be viewed differently in the year to come. Set yourselves some targets or resolutions for 2018. So, some suggested FARMING RESOLUTIONS or management principles to consider differently for the coming year.

Aim to see the new year safely through. Remember, health is wealth. Keep yourself and your family safe and healthy. STOP and THINK before starting any farm task. SLOW DOWN where possible. Don't take any unnecessary risks. A farmyard is not a playground, keep children supervised at all times. Cherish children and look after them for they are the future. In many cases, the future of the farm that they live on.

Farm Management:

Look to improve overall farm management - farm management doesn't change much from year to year. It's how you go about applying it that matters. Farm management is the major factor affecting farm profitability. It's all about following a farm plan, grassland management, maintaining soil fertility, animal health and stockmanship, farm maintenance etc.

Let's look more closely at these management principles.

Following a Plan:

These days it is essential to have a plan if you wish to succeed at any business. Farming is no different. However, making plans for the future involves looking at where you are now and deciding where you want to go. What is your farming system (e.g. suckling to weanling, suckling to finish, weanling to finish, etc)?  Be clear in your mind what you are trying to achieve and what you are trying to produce. Many farms have no definite system, resulting in long calving seasons (or calving spreads do not exist) and/or no targeted trading policy (selling as weanlings, stores or finished cattle)

NOW is the time to draw up a simple Farm Plan for 2018. Set yourself targets and do your best to meet them.

Grassland Management:

Make the most of grass. Grass is the cheapest source of feed. It is three times cheaper than silage and five times cheaper than concentrates. Aim to exploit the advantage of grass to the full by a long grazing season (target is 220 days) and an early turnout of stock. Aim for high weight gain from grass throughout the season. Keep enough leafy grass in front of stock right throughout the grazing season to get good animal performance.

Soil Fertility:

Maintaining soil fertility is a key component of grassland management. Soil fertility is vital for grass growth. Having correct levels of Phosphorous (P), Potassium (K) and the pH or Lime level is essential for grassland productivity. Taking soil samples will help establish the nutrient levels in soil on your farm.  Ensure you have a correct level and balance of P, K and Lime on your farm for maximum grass growth.

Farm Maintenance:

Farm maintenance is a driver of efficient farming. It is a key management task that requires regular attention. Good farm maintenance cuts time wastage, saves labour, gives better control of livestock, provides a safer working environment and reduces farm accidents. Look to improve farm maintenance in the year ahead.

Animal Health:

"If you look after your stock, they'll look after YOU" You can feed your stock the best silage, the highest energy ration, the leafiest grass available. However, your stock will not thrive if they are suffering from ill health, parasites or mineral deficiencies. Remember, prevention is better than cure. Routine, timely treatment of stock is a management tool for the prevention of health problems on farms.

Look to the future. Have a target to improve overall farm management in 2018, while seeing the year safely through for You and Your family.

Nothing changes on New Year's Day, but everything will be different, it will be 2018. Time to view things differently!