In this week’s Farmer’s Diary, Clodagh Hughes, sheep farmer, discusses Silage 2021, weather conditions, wool prices and shearing.
Well, how about that for a change in the weather, folks!
And what a welcome change it was. The fields are buzzing around the countryside with a palpable urgency as farmers and contractors gather in the first of 2021’s silage harvest before our famous Irish summer changes its mind!
The grasslands are lush and plentiful as livestock can graze their fill. Then, we, as farmers, can begin to focus on the next tasks at hand.
For me, it is shearing and weaning time. Although I am later than I was last year, it is just coming time now to get it done. I have a shearer booked, and we are just waiting to arrange a day that suits us both.
I will need a bit of help with my wee flock. As mall as it is, I have 36 ewes and 2 big rams to be shorn. If anyone has seen even a few sheep been shorn, they will know it’s a big job at the best of times, and my girls are not a small sheep breed!
Sheep wool prices
Unfortunately, just yesterday morning (Tuesday), I saw the latest quotes for wool prices this year, and they are very disheartening.
Due to a huge backlog from last year alone and the international markets being in a state of economic uncertainty, wool is worth little to nothing!
Wool is actually worth more on the sheep’s back, but for obvious welfare reasons, we shear them at least once a year.
There are movements within the sheep farming industry to raise the value of homegrown wool and to market it as a viable by-product that would provide farmers with an additional income for their product.
It is perhaps a little known fact that wool can be made into an excellent eco-friendly, organic and fully biodegradable fertiliser which, in the current push for environmental sustainability worldwide, we should be capitalising on.
I could write a small book on this subject but suffice it to say. It is an industry waiting to happen, and many people are working behind the scenes to make it happen.
The breeds of sheep I keep are lowland. This means they are most suited to land that is mostly near or below sea level instead of mountainous or Highland landscapes, which requires a hardy and self-sufficient breed of sheep.
The wool from my sheep is considered too coarse to be spun into fine garments, but it is perfect for the likes of carpets, heavy-duty socks, insulation and compost, to name a few. But, on the other hand, mountainous breed’s wool is deemed to be worth even less!
Stopping all meal feeding
That was all very serious. On the positive side of things, my ewes are recovering condition from lambing and are all doing well. This will stand them when tupping season arrives later on.
My lambs are flying now, and I have stopped all meal feeding as there’s grass going a-begging. It is hard to fathom how everything can turn around in a few weeks.
Have a good week and catch up soon!
You can read more of Clodagh’s articles.