The secret intelligence of donkeys

Agridirect.ie outlines how donkeys have been negatively characterised in most agricultural societies and explains why our prejudices are very misguided.

Stereotyping

Few farm animals receive more negative press than the humble donkey (Equus asinus). For most of the recorded history of animal husbandry, humans have depicted donkeys as ignorant, stubborn, stupid creatures. Indeed, the donkey is often evoked as a byword for undesirable human behaviour. In most cultures and languages, to call someone a donkey stirs up a range of negative associations. Where I come from, belligerent or wilful people are often accused, scathingly, of being “as thick as an ass”. In historical accounts dating as far back as Ancient Greece, donkeys were compared unfavourably to horses, due to their smaller stature, cropped mane, stubbornness, and suitability for hard labour rather than leisure activities such as racing.

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Increased rainfall raises fluke threat

Agridirect.ie discusses the danger of fluke on Irish farms as the weather turns wet.

Perfect conditions for parasites

Last week we discussed how the present turn of warm, wet weather is providing ideal breeding conditions for the blowfly. As farmers, we need to be aware that this autumnal humidity offers up more than one threat. A range of parasites are likely to thrive in current weather conditions. Among these, few are a bigger threat than the liver fluke.

For the time being, ground has held up well in all but the spongiest, boggiest land; but if current rainfall continues much longer, we will start to see surface water in places. With temperatures set to remain in the mid to high teens for the foreseeable, we can expect a serious escalation in grass fluke levels in the coming weeks. Naturally, we as farmers want to take every possible precaution to protect livestock from a bad bout of fluke. A serious fluke problem is uncomfortable for animals and a potential catastrophe for farm revenue.

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The Agridirect Guide to Buying a Used Tractor

Agridirect.ie talks about the potential pitfalls of buying a used tractor and presents a short guide to help you get value for your money.

An important investment

A good tractor is one of the most important investments a farmer can make. The right tractor will fix you up for years to come. Now, obviously, those who can afford to buy a brand-new model don’t have many worries. New tractors, unless they come from a very disreputable brand, should run like clockwork for a few years at least.

If you are like me, however, you simply can’t afford to spend big on a brand-new model. This means that you are on the hunt for a good used tractor. This is not necessarily going to be a painful experience. There are many excellent used tractors on the market, and many reputable dealers that won’t sell you a pig-in-a-poke. However, it is also important to remember that there are plenty of highway men out there who will sell you a spray-painted heap of scrap if they can get away with it. That’s why we at Agridirect.ie have decided to put together this short and simple guide to help you with your purchase. In today’s blog entry, we will discuss what to look for in a used tractor and what features to check and double-check before making the deal.

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Grassland reseeding: the steps to the perfect reseed

Following on from the last reseeding blog where we went through the benefits of reseeding and how to go about selecting a seed mix, this week we look at the steps you should take to achieve a top-quality grass reseed, along with the weed control measures needed to protect the good work done during the reseeding process!

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Grassland reseeding: picking the right ingredients

As a popular time of year for grassland reseeding fast approaches, Agridirect.ie looks at the huge benefits reseeding brings and explains how you should go about picking your most suitable seed mix!

Why Invest in Reseeding?

Reseeding is undertaken on Irish farms for many reasons, with performance at the very top of the list. Over time grass plants will gradually lose their performance. This is a major problem for farmers, as they aim for the best possible performance from their land and livestock. When reseeding takes place a much larger amount of grass is grown which means the amount of fertilizer you need to spread is reduced, the stocking rate of animals can be increased, and the land should at the end of the day make more profit. Reseeding can also help control weeds which may have caused problems over the years – another huge benefit.

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Help them help us – get to work on your bee garden

Agridirect.ie discusses why we need bee gardens, and outlines some quick and easy steps that you can take to support the world’s most effective pollinators.

The threat of extinction

The global bee population has been declining steadily for decades now. Here in Ireland, we have seen a marked decrease in bee numbers since the 1980s. According to experts, the distribution of 42 bee species has declined by more than 50% over the last 40 years. There are numerous possible causes of this dramatic decline, but most scientists blame a combination of habitat destruction, climate change, excessive pesticide use, changes in land use, and loss of biodiversity.

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Yes, we need more clover. Here’s why!

Agridirect.ie outlines the primary benefits of promoting white clover on our land.

A member of the bean family, white clover (trifolium repens) is native to Europe and Central Asia. Traditionally, it has thrived in the temperate oceanic climate of Britain and Ireland, providing excellent grazing for the ruminants of these islands. After World War II, however, market forces began to target the three-leaved plant. As petrochemical herbicides developed during the war era hit the shelves, the chemical industry started to depict white clover as an unsightly weed that its products could deal with. Predictably, the global clover population took a serious nosedive.

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Father’s Day Presents for Farmers

Father's Day Presents for Farmers 001With Father’s Day just around the corner, the Agridirect team chooses the 5 best presents for farming dads.

Father’s Day – Easy to Forget?

Because Father’s Day falls in June, we farmers often forget about it. It’s not that we don’t think the old man is deserving of special recognition. It’s just that we don’t have time to stop and shop. June is one of the busiest months of the year in the farming calendar. We have sheep to shear, a blowfly infestation or two to tackle, a first cut of silage to make. Gifts of any description usually fall far down our priorities list at this time of year.

And let’s be honest, usually farming dads are too busy themselves to lose much sleep over our seeming ingratitude. Continue reading “Father’s Day Presents for Farmers”

Do You Know the Right Weed Killer for Your Farm?

Weed Wars 001

Agridirect offers some advice to farmers and gardeners on the best weedkillers to use in this summer’s weed wars!

At war with weeds?

It’s that time of year again. And while most of us welcome the milder weather, we can’t help but despair that the weeds are getting the upper hand in our endless war against them. My own front street is starting to look like meadow and, try as I might to hack away at the variety of grasses with a spade, there just aren’t enough hours in the week to keep them at bay. It may be time for the farmer and the gardener to strike back. Why not take the less labour-intensive option and look for an effective weedkiller over the coming weeks? If you’re ready to take action, we have some great news for you! Here at Agridirect.ie, we’re running a super early summer sale on some of our most popular weed killers and related products. Continue reading “Do You Know the Right Weed Killer for Your Farm?”

Mineral deficiency in calves – know the right bolus

Calf weaning 001Agridirect offers some advice on the best mineral boluses for calves at weaning time.

Weaning calves – what’s all the doom and gloom about?

Some calves start to fail the moment they come off mother’s milk. You put them out on pasture and you notice the change almost immediately. Sometimes weight loss comes with the onset of infectious diseases that set the animal back even further. All too often, calves don’t make it past this stage at all.

We’ve all had to deal with the unexpected loss of weanling calves, time and time again.

And although it is hard not to despair of weak weanlings that seem prone to just about every ailment imaginable, we should also recognize that disastrous outcomes have preventable causes. The sudden removal of milk from a calf’s diet places enormous stress on its young body. Unless grass quality is of an extremely high quality, chances are that your weanlings are deficient in some crucial minerals. Insufficient copper in a calf’s diet, for example, is one of the leading causes of ill-thrift in calves on Irish farms. A lack of cobalt, on the other hand, can lead to a loss of appetite and a range of health complications. Continue reading “Mineral deficiency in calves – know the right bolus”