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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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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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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IFA to hold “Save Irish Farming” rallies at 4 locations tomorrow

The Irish Farmers Association has organised 4 emergency rallies tomorrow in a bid to “save Irish farming”. According to the Association, current government policies will decimate Irish farming. The IFA believes that the Government is not entering negotiations with farming groups in good faith, and argues that the current policy trajectory will leave Irish agriculture unrecognisable within a few years.

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The Animal Welfare strategy: how will it impact small farmers?

Agridirect.ie discusses the Government’s new Animal Welfare strategy, arguing that regulation should focus on unethical factory production rather than the average smallholding.

The 5 Principles

2021 is the first year of the implementation of the Government’s Animal Welfare strategy, which will run until 2025. According to the strategy document, the regulatory approach over the coming years will focus on 5 key principles:

  • Working in partnership
  • Science and evidence led policy making
  • Improving education and knowledge
  • Consistent approach to evaluation and assessment
  • Effective regulation
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Silent Killer: Grass Tetany and How to Prevent It

Agridirect.ie discusses the danger of grass tetany in the weeks running up to housing, and offers some advice on the best way to prevent and treat it.

Aftergrass – a hotbed for tetany

As the grazing season draws to a close, suckler farmers should keep a closer-than-usual eye on their stock. Animals will be housed in the next few weeks, but until then the risk of grass tetany is very high. Tetany is one of the biggest cattle killers on Irish suckler farms, and it usually occurs on heavy, low-fibre paddocks. If you put animals out on aftergrass in the last few weeks, you should be particularly vigilant. Cows recently weaned of their calves are most at risk of succumbing to tetany.  

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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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