John Large: Why we have no option but to cut our stocking rate

The November rain has caused us a lot of problems. Some of our land is low-lying by a river and this flooded for more than a week.

et ground conditions led to poor grass utilisation, which has left us with not much grass, so ewes will be housed early, once rams are removed in the first week of December.

We will feed silage until scanning time then we will feed according to litter size and ewe condition.

At least the spring and early summer gave us plenty of grass, enough for silage bales and hay that should see us through the winter.

Housing them early should help keep the good condition on the ewes. There is no point in losing condition outside when they get short in feed.

There is also no point going back into fields that were closed up first — this grass will be of more benefit to ewes with lambs next March.

Our other problem this year has been the huge increase in input costs.

Fertiliser has gone to a price where we cannot justify its use to grow grass.

Stocking rates will have to be reduced as we will have to work with what grass we can grow with a lot less artificial fertiliser.

I know clover and multi-species swards have a role to play but it will take time to get them established.

Meal has gone up by over €100/t. After the year we have had where meal was needed to finish lambs, we had no option but pay the price.

Good-quality silage is our hope in keeping down meal costs for ewes.

Diesel, energy and household expenses have all got dearer too.

The only product that has not got any more expensive is our lambs. There has been movement to near €7/kg for this week but it is like the rain that came after the dry summer — almost too late.

We’ll decide further down the line whether our reduced stocking rate will be just for next year, or for the long term.

John Large farms at Gortnahoe, Co Tipperary – RSS Feed