From dogs to pine martens: farmland predators and how they kill

Agridirect.ie discusses the predators most likely to attack your flock, and asks: how can we read the signs to identify the predator?

The mystery of the dead lambs

For the last month or so, we have kept a dozen ewe lambs, born last April, in the meadow beside our house. These are good, strong Brockie faced hoggets that will be ready for the ram this autumn.

One night, about a fortnight ago, they were attacked. We found one dead on a murky wet morning, with half her neck eaten away. Two days later, we discovered a second lamb dead. This time, the entire head had been taken.

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3 Good Reasons to Keep Goats; and 1 Great Reason Not To

Agridirect.ie discusses the pros and cons of keeping goats on your farm as a compliment to other ruminants.

There is a longstanding belief that goats are a good animal to keep alongside sheep and cattle. In bygone days in this country, it was common to see a goat or two roaming with a herd of cattle. When I was a child – which is longer ago than I would like to admit but still not so long ago – my grandfather ran a large buck goat and a couple of nannies with our cattle throughout the year. The underlying belief, it seems, was that the goat brought luck and acted as a disease repellent.

Parasites

When I first heard this, I thought it sounded like superstition. However, in recent years research has indicated that there is more to it than that. It seems that many of the parasitic worms that trouble cattle cannot survive in goats, and vice versa. This means that goats are a dead-end host for some of the most troublesome parasites that scourge our cows at certain times of the year. Goats do not necessarily keep diseases away, but they may help to slow the rate of parasitic reproduction on our land during that phase.

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The 7 Types of Irish Farmer

Agridirect.ie discusses the 7 types of Irish Farmer and asks: which one are you?

The Big Farmer. There aren’t too many of these in the west, but there are a few in the east. These lads are bringing money in every and any way. The big farmer is the type that has a lot of land but always wants more. Those who say there is no money in farming haven’t met the Big Farmer. A lot of the time, he drives an Audi and sleeps in a Four Poster. Some Big Farmers have reached a point where they don’t need to work the land anymore. They have farmhands to do it for them!

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Lead poisoning: prevention is key

Agridirect.ie discusses the dangers of lead poisoning on the farm, and outlines some measures you can take to prevent your animals from ingesting this common toxin.

More common than you might think

Lead is the most common cause of poisoning in livestock. Accidental ingestion of lead occurs among cattle and sheep far more frequently than you might think. Because lead ingestion will kill an animal quickly, lead poisoning often goes unrecognised. A farmer may find a previously healthy animal dead in a field and attribute the sudden death to a heart attack or some deadly disease. Farmland that lies near heavily industrialised areas is particularly at risk.

Failure to diagnose lead poisoning as the cause of death can have disastrous consequences, as the poison is on your land and more animals are likely to succumb to it if you do not take action.

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Slow killer: Johne’s Disease and how to prevent it

Agridirect.ie discusses the menace of Johne’s disease and outlines some measure that farmers should take to prevent the spread of this insidious infection.

Johne’s disease: what is it?

Johne’s disease is one of the most frustrating and insidious diseases that any farmer will have to deal with. Many other infectious diseases that target the digestive system, such as winter dysentery and stomach worms, are a nuisance that cause damage to a cow’s digestive health; but these are relatively unlikely to kill the animal. In stark contrast, once contracted Johne’s disease will eventually cause death in most cases.

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Christmas Dinner with a Farmer: A Beginner’s Guide

With Christmas day only 3 weeks away, Agridirect.ie looks at some of the classic dinner moments that make spending Christmas with a farmer unique.

It’s true that Christmas dinner is celebrated slightly differently in every household. No matter who we are or where we come from, we all have those little traditions that make the festive meal special and unique to our own home patch.

That said, there are some Christmas traditions that all farms seem to share. And with the big day less than 3 weeks away, we’ve decided to put together a list of some of the classic and stereotypical moments that make eating Christmas dinner with a farmer that bit special. We hope you enjoy it!

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Homegrown Alternatives to Feed Concentrates

Agridirect.ie discusses some of the best homegrown alternatives to feed concentrate for livestock during the housing season.

Transitioning from feed concentrate

When it comes to winter feed for cattle, most of us are content with the old reliable strategy: a combination of good quality silage plus a feed concentrate tailored to our animals’ age, size, or breed. However, with concentrate prices on the rise, more and more farmers are looking for cheaper, home-grown alternatives. Over the last year or two, I have spoken to several farmers who have either started to supplement feed concentrate with various root vegetables and beans, or have replaced it completely with a combination of these.

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From heavy lifting to electrical maintenance: 5 tips for safe winter farming

Agridirect.ie focusses once more on the theme of farm safety and outlines 5 key safety measures that farmers should take this winter.

On the farm, every season brings a different set of challenges. Calving season in spring means sleepless nights, while long summer days on the tractor is murder on the back. No matter what the farming calendar throws our way, though, it is always important to think of our own safety and that of others. Farming, by its very nature, is one of the most dangerous occupations in the world. And while most farmers are aware of the hazards of the job and try to take all necessary precautions, it can be easy to forget safety measures as we rush from one task to another.

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Neosporosis – why we should keep dogs away from the cattle shed

As cattle move indoors at this time of year, Agridirect.ie discusses the risk of neosporosis and reminds farmers to keep their dogs away from the feeding passage.

Fodder is, of course, a matter of much concern to farmers at this time of year. We worry about how much of it we have, its quality, and whether there are any affordable alternatives to the standard mix of silage and concentrates. These are, of course, important and legitimate topics and I will return to them at a later date. For now, though, I want to discuss an issue that receives far too little attention in the farming community. This is the danger that pregnant cattle will contract neosporosis from fodder during the housing season.

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Good Hospitality: Making Cows Comfortable This Housing Season

Agridirect.ie discusses “cow comfort”, outlining some ways that farmers can help to make sure their cows are comfortable and happy this housing season.

What is cow comfort?

In the dairy sector, there has been a great push in recent times to promote the idea of “cow comfort”. At its core, cow comfort aims to minimise an animal’s stress and thereby increase productivity. But it is an animal welfare issue as much as it is a matter of farm profitability.

Given that many suckler herds will be moving indoors over the next few weeks, it seems to me that the suckler farmer should also give some thought to cow comfort. Cattle often lose ground when they are housed, and this is not always attributable to the spread of infectious diseases; or, if it is, we should consider the possibility that diseases are spreading through the herd due to issues with our housing plan. If there is little fresh air circulating in the shed, or if cattle are confined to small and overcrowded pens, the risk of typical winter illnesses, and particularly respiratory illnesses, increases tenfold. Cow comfort indeed.

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