Farmer Focus: Michael Scully

SPRING HAS finally arrived, with cows out by day from the end of January. With all cows calved and in full production, grass demand can be high at this time of year. For that reason, we initially restricted intakes to 4kg of dry matter a cow and gradually raised this to 10kg during February.

Grazing conditions are currently excellent and we are able to graze off all available grass. This is allowing us to spread 36,000 litres/ha of slurry on grazed ground which should help provide an excellent start to the spring season.

As you may be aware, we have converted genetics in the herd to NZ Friesian over the past five years. Two of the bulls we used most heavily, Hugo and Keet, have just been elevated to numbers one and two, respectively, in the Irish rankings. In hindsight, it has proven to be the correct decision for us.

Unfortunately, continued access to these genetics is now under severe threat due to an EU-wide ban on importing semen from IBR-vaccinated bulls from outside the community.

Just as we have found a real solution to the genetic mistakes of the past, this source of semen is being denied to UK and Irish producers.

This is made all the more ludicrous by the fact that the New Zealand strain of IBR only causes bovine influenza rather than abortion in these islands. There is a test, called the PCR test, which can differentiate between a vaccinated bull and one with a live infection.

Why not use this simple test? Why not use some common sense? With one stroke of a pen from an ill advised vet inspector in Brussels, we are denied access to genetics which allow us to compete on a level playing field with the low cost producers of the world.

Small minded and short-sighted decisions can sometimes have severe long-term consequences. Let”s hope this decision is short lived.