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Traditional farming

  • 15-11-2021 2:28pm
    Registered Users Posts: 11,481 ✭✭✭✭ mariaalice

    climate change bla bla, too much meat bla bla.

    One of the solutions proposed is to return to 'traditional' farming.

    I grew up on a farm that had cattle, sheep, pigs, and dairy a small farm we also raised turkeys for Christmas which was very profitable, before my time they grew oats as well.

    Is it all a fantasy to return to farming like that?



  • Registered Users Posts: 2,962 ✭✭✭

    They didn't have expenses like mobile phone, two cars per house, children's expensive education etc. You won't feed the rest of the world either.

  • Registered Users Posts: 6,489 ✭✭✭ kevthegaff

    If y had a 1000 ewes, would u make a good living , just wondering..

  • Registered Users Posts: 11,481 ✭✭✭✭ mariaalice

    Its an interesting topic, some of this is hazy, id imagine they gave up the oats because of the change from horses sometime in the 1950s and the pigs went because of price volatility, dairy went because it got too expensive and complicated once they stopped picking up the churns at the side of the road, the sheep got less profitable when the price of wool dropped and so on, its only part-time now and only cattle.

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  • Registered Users Posts: 378 ✭✭ popa smurf

    Still know a few that stayed the same know one lad still same set up with 40 years milkimg 30 cows with pipeline tipping away middling tractor fixes everything himself he would be tidy enough same lad early 60s now, kids well educated, wife did a bit of part time work nothing too serious seems to be happy enough at it.

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,923 ✭✭✭ Dunedin

  • Registered Users Posts: 3,839 ✭✭✭ herdquitter

    If the farmer retains a "commodity traditional" mindset then it'll fail. There are plenty of examples of profitable small farms, a lot not even in CAP. It's not for everyone and it won't work for everyone.

  • Registered Users Posts: 997 ✭✭✭ Deub

    I think it is possible but it wouldn’t be easy. Most of people are used to buy veg/meat that look and taste the same all year around. If you raise a non mass produced standard pork, I am sure some people would find the taste too “gamey”, the spring butter too yellow. Let alone an apple that is not round.

    I would like to see more local farmers at market. It should be the majority of the stalls and not only 1 or 2 (at least to the ones I have been). i would also like to see more farmers selling their produce from their farm. It would change people’s perception of what real food is.

    The benefit of traditional farming is that you don’t have all your eggs in the same basket but it also means you wouldn’t be an expert in all of them and that would impact productivity.

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  • Registered Users Posts: 1,692 ✭✭✭ farawaygrass

    A guy I know was researching sheep handling facilities and was watching nz or oz videos. There was an elderly farmer being interviewed about some set up or device or something or other. He said he only keep a few sheep now as a past time to keep him occupied. His few sheep numbered a couple of hundred

  • Registered Users Posts: 9,187 ✭✭✭ Birdnuts

    Thats so true - problem nowadays is that so many farmers have been brainwashed into that "race to the bottom" model and what big agri business presents to us, that knowledge of things like self sufficiency, diversity, mixed low input farming, maintaining health soil etc. have nearly been lost:(

  • Registered Users Posts: 15,401 ✭✭✭✭ Bass Reeves

    In theory this sounds grand. However to get out of he commodity trap you need to sell direct to market like in France. There is one small problem we export 90% of our produce. Even if we doubled or trebled the amount sold in farmersmarkets it wouldonly amount to 1-2% of our total produce.

    Slava Ukrainii

  • Registered Users Posts: 11,345 ✭✭✭✭ Danzy

    The vet said to me one time the man with 40 cows minds them tighter than the man with 400.

    Understandably so.

  • Registered Users Posts: 9,187 ✭✭✭ Birdnuts

    Unfortunately that "production at any cost model" has crashed farmer margins since the 70's, fed the Larry monster and to this day keeps milk and beef prices here at some of the lowest in the EU. Despite this the constant advice from the likes of DAFM was to drive this even harder. Its very hard to see a happy ending down the the line for maintaining farm families in any numbers, attracting young people into the industry or delivering sustainability on any front!! All of this is of course made worse by the current CAP model with its obscenely unbalanced distribution of SFP monies here - fix that and there may be some chance of turning things around for the better!!

  • Registered Users Posts: 15,401 ✭✭✭✭ Bass Reeves

    I am not a production at any cost advocate. However Ireland has always produced more food than we consume. It is not just in Ireland that production has jumped but right accross the world.

    i saw a figure for World population. A century ago it was 1.7 billion. Today it is 7.5 billion with a projected 10 billion by 2100. This was mainly due to synthetic N. Without synthetic N it's estimated our population would be less than 50% of the present population. The difference in population would have been prevented by famines and there associated issues.

    It's all very well to say you can take a step back however you are dependent on the whole world stepping back. Any of my posting us in agreement with the present direction of Cap with Criss Eco and convergence and directing funding away from production.

    I saw an interesting figure I think it was if N use dropped from 250 to 200kgs /HA on intensive farms grass production would only drop about 10%.

    Most production is driven often by technical support(Teagasc and agri consultants) where profit is not the driver but production.

    On 24 HA I use 4.5 ton of Urea, 2 ton of Can and 4T of 18-6-13 to finish 60 cattle. I am at 138 k N/HA. I will probably move over to MSS on my grazing ground but will try to keep stock at present levels, just below derogation limits

    Slava Ukrainii

  • Registered Users Posts: 9,187 ✭✭✭ Birdnuts

    I would agree with alot of that but another thing I think is relevant is the colossal waste in the system in terms of food - many studies put it as high as 50% of production. Then there is is the obesity epidemic that is now affecting even countries like Mexico and India. Heavy use of chem N has also played havoc with vital soil processes to the extent that the nutritional vale of the likes of carrots grown intensively is now a fraction of what it was 70 years ago.Same trends in intensive livestock systems, the difference in taste, texture and quality between a chicken you would rear yourself and the cheap muck you get via large industrial units is illustrative of that fact

  • Registered Users Posts: 15,401 ✭✭✭✭ Bass Reeves

    A lad made a point to me today. We both taught you could have 30-40% rise in food price inflation at the farm gate. But this may be exacerbated within retail. If this happens what effects will this have on the food and drink services sector. You could see large reduction in things like coffee production and grains from countries in South America.

    If this happens eating out could significantly decline and things like take away coffee could become s luxury rather than a staple. It might be back to the jar of Maxwell house for many

    Slava Ukrainii

  • Registered Users Posts: 3,839 ✭✭✭ herdquitter

    Direct marketing is a thing for sure, it's not as easy as commodity market but the rewards are greater. IMO we must create added value and cut out as many middle men & women as possible. As I said, it's not for everyone. I'm so not worried about exports it's on par with the we must feed 9bn schtick. Absolutely not a thing for me, I'm not in or of that mindset. My important jobs are leaving my land in better stead than I got it and providing for my own family. So whoever comes after me either has a viable business to walk into, or a much more valuable asset to flog.

    The handle I picked for this incarnation on boards wasn't an accident.

  • Registered Users Posts: 9,381 ✭✭✭ Say my name

    Was talking to someone once who tried to make a go of the self sufficiency life with a market of veg to sell to the public.

    They gave it up fairly quickly. Not sure why completely but I got the impression they tried it to see could they do it and then moved to a different chapter of their life.

    There seems to me in this country a brainwashing mantra atm of be self sufficient, do it all yourself, the public will buy from you and everything will be hunky dory. We never hear of those who tried it and it either didn't fit or it failed them and who've moved on.

    Anyway that's all.

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  • Registered Users Posts: 15,401 ✭✭✭✭ Bass Reeves

    I agree it's not for everyone and that some can make a go of it. However if there was too many transferred over to it then the prices in these markets collapse and there is nothing for anyone. I now and again pass a shop that sells Ardfert milk and I but it. It's a pasteurised as opposed to homogenised milk. It 2.75/2L and 2/L. Now I am sure the farmer/small dairy doing it is makeing a nice profit. It covers a good bit of Kerry/west Limerick. Now if some one set up doing the same thing near me well and good they would probably make a nice margin as well. Problem is if another farmer or two and n the Ardfert dairy did the same thing retailers would force down the price and margin and all the effort would be for nothing

    I too want to leave the farm I bough in better nick than when I got it. What the Kerryman on Slea head said to the Yank '' you cannot eat a view'' comes from into play, people need to live in the here and now as well, they need to put food on the take, pay there utility bill and put there kids through college

    Slava Ukrainii

  • Moderators, Society & Culture Moderators Posts: 2,495 Mod ✭✭✭✭ K.G.

    Last Saturday wife and daughter went to the country market and came with some the dinner she was telling how the women had 4 cows and was making the cheese and selling. I suggested that would she better off sending her milk to the factory and working one day a week there and one day in a shop to acheive the same result as I feel that the whole operation is fraught with inefficiency s.there followed a big debate about the merits of each back and forth and with 3 teenagers it's very rare that you get a good buy into a topic and for that alone I thank this women.the point is your taking on 2 more jobs when starting these operation,manufacturing and marketing and very inefficient systems at that.back prior to70 s and 80 s it was very common for builders to do everything in a house foundations blocklaying roofing plastering and even the wiring and plumbing. Unheard of nowadays

  • Registered Users Posts: 3,839 ✭✭✭ herdquitter

    I've spent the past 2-3 years more looking for solutions than problems. There's ways around competition, it's not something to be feared, quite the opposite imv. At the risk of repeating myself, but that fear is another part of the same way of thinking.

    There's quite a few people eating the view around this area. Opportunities abound.

  • Registered Users Posts: 2,695 ✭✭✭ yosemitesam1

    Would you be better off it you let/set the farm and got a job? Same thing really

  • Registered Users Posts: 15,401 ✭✭✭✭ Bass Reeves

    On a lot of farms leasing/ renting is not a feasible option. Yes in intensive dairy/ tillage area's but accross a lot of the country 100-150/ acre is tops for rent, some may even be below this. It seems there is an extensive farming payment coming.

    So a farmer on poorer quality ground with 30 HA, will get his Bliss, Evo and Criss which will be in the region of a minimum payment of 260-300/ HA. Or 8-9k on 30 HA. Add environment scheme at 5k. Then add to that an extensivation payment of maybe 40/ HA or 1200 euro on 30 HA.

    What will it be set at maybe 120-130/ organic N/ HA or about 1.5 Suckler cows/ HA which may not be achievable on a lot of land along the west coast anyway. Organics is an option as well but unless a viable environment scheme is available you are better off probably at a standard system.

    Add in a suckker cow payment of 150/ cow on 30 cows and you have 4.5k. that an 18k payment for a fairly low farming level especially if you decide to maybe go with a mid sized LMX dairy cow bred to AA or HE. On 20 HA it would be 12-14k depending on Glad/ reps payment.

    Calf to store may work on better type marginal land. Sheep would lack the subsidity of suckler.but is inherently profitable.

    Slava Ukrainii

  • Registered Users Posts: 2,695 ✭✭✭ yosemitesam1

    Wasnt really the point I was making. A lot are quick to question the viability of someone doing something different but not many question whether their own business stands up to the same scrutiny.

    Taking into account hours worked, capital invested and risk. Most farming businesses would not be particularly attractive propositions to the average person on the street.

  • Registered Users Posts: 3,839 ✭✭✭ herdquitter

    Not to mention the lack of control over the business.

  • Registered Users Posts: 15,401 ✭✭✭✭ Bass Reeves

    It is unlikly that a person that cam fails run a standard farming business will manage to run a niche business where marketing and development skills are required.

    As a Matt O'Callaghan a sport journalist said about a club that has got from Junior B football to senior in seven years and achieved senior hurling status last year ''the blueprint is there and looks easy but few can manage it''.

    In a standard farm business where silage and slurry is contracted out it possible to run such a business in 10-15 hours a week for 40+ weeks/ year

    Slava Ukrainii

  • Registered Users Posts: 3,688 ✭✭✭ Kevhog1988

    Some people are nuts how often they buy takeaway coffee. I had to give a girl a lift to work today as her car broke down. Id the coffee made at home in the keep cup we got free in work and she had walked to the shop and back to her house for a takeaway coffee. See people in here in work buying a coffee at lunchtime too... we have an all singing all dancing coffee machine in work on every floor and one in the canteen where these people sit to eat their lunch and drink the shop bought coffee.. Madness

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  • Registered Users Posts: 2,695 ✭✭✭ yosemitesam1

    It's very much a case of each to their own. If that woman mentioned with 4 cows is happy, more power to her. Probably gets quite a lot of satisfaction out of running that business