4th JUNE 2020 - Page 43



FARM WEEK
FARMFAMILY
TAKING A LOOK
BACK INTO THE
FARM
WEEK
STRICTLY PERSONAL
NOVEMBER 21, 1967
Mr A J Wigam
By Dobson
50
years
ago
this
week
T
A
65-year-old Co Tyrone
man who described
himself as on the edge
of retirement after a life-time
spent in agriculture regards
the Government system of
subsidies and grants as “one
of the miracles of post-war
farming”.
Mr A J Wigam, who runs
a 60-acre mixed holding
at Lisgoellen, Ballygawley,
recalled with obvious relish
his surprise and amazement
on receiving his first
ploughing and potato grants
“more years ago than I care
to recall”.
“The original ploughing
grant was £2 per acre and I
really couldn’t understand
how we were entitled to
this money for working our
own land,” Mr Wigam told
FarmWeek. “When this was
followed by a cheque for £30
for a three-acre potato plot
I really believed the whole
thing was too good to last.
“However, it soon became
obvious that the different
Government plans for
assistance to farmers were
really necessary because of
the decline in profit margins
through keener competition.
While Mr Wigam
is enthusiastic about
“Relax
“the general all-round
Willy, they’ve
improvement in the farmer’s
lot,” he has reservations
decided not to
about “all this wholesale
risk carrying
mechanisation,” claiming
back the footthat in many ways horses
could at least match the
and-mouth!”
tractor during ploughing
operations.
“Of course the
younger generation
would hardly have
time now to harness a
horse,” he said, “but I
personally am sorry it
“But at least from the
environmental viewpoint, the
has gone.”
position has become more stable,
Milk production
for the battery cage is now
from a 20-cow herd is
irrefutably established as the
the main enterprise
environment for all operations.
on the holding. The
“Thornbers have now produced
best heifers are kept
an environment which is totally
for replacements and
flexible and provides the
all other calves are
poultryman with a built-in no-cost
finished to beef.
insurance against overnight market
Pig fattening is
fluctuations and the risk of having
carried on from the
to replace his equipment before it is
ABOVE: Removing a bird from Thornbers’
produce of a small
worn out.”
new multi-purpose cage is a simple task, as
sow-herd and, as with
The alterations required to
demonstrated her by Ralph Thornber, 19-year-old son
the cattle, there is no
convert the cage from brooderof
the
company’s
chairman
Cyril
Thornber.
rearing to laying can be carried out
bought-in stock.
easily and quickly.
“We finish to beef
weeks) entails merely
wider-spaced vertical
For instance, to convert from
and bacon with no
the reversal of the lower
bars. (An upper cage
the brooding stage to the first
cage front, permitting the
front is used merely to
‘middleman’ sale,” Mr
stage of rearing (at three to four
pullets to feed through
‘pen in’ the pullets).
Wigam remarked.
Cropping has
decreased in recent
years with the bulk
of the land now given
over to grazing and
hay production.
of Irish small farmers have fooled
the bigger units can hope to achieve”.
Giving a guarded
themselves in the belief that if they had
Giving an enthusiastic reception to the
welcome to the
a few acres of ground everything was
Government plans for the amalgamation
Government proposals
alright.
of small holdings she declared herself
for the amalgamation
“In fact a stupid kind of class distinction
quite willing to see if a buyer could be
of small holdings,
grew between the land-owners, however
found.
Mr Wigam said:
small, and other workers, but improving
“I believe amalgamation could save the
“I suppose the
conditions in factories and industry
industry but with so much marginal and
combination of small
coupled with the more enlightened
waste land in this part of the country
farms is necessary
attitude of the younger people have
suitable grouping will be difficult to
and desirable in many
brought about a tremendous levelling-up.
organise,” she said.
cases – and I am not
“Labour is practically unobtainable now
“More or less retired,” Miss Kerr
being sentimental –
while the drift from the land is further
augments her farm income with her small
but hope adequate
proof that all is not well with farming on a
shop. Her enthusiasm for antiques is
compensation is
limited scale.”
reflected in a growing collection of brass
planned for the heartDespite her doubts about the chances
candlesticks, replicas of ships involved in
break involved in
of survival of the small man, Miss Kerr’s
battle centuries ago, sailing vessels, brass
leaving a holding after
faith in farming generally remains
plates, special crests, emblems, miniature
several generations.
unshaken “if we can introduce the
warming pans, jelly moulds, carriage
It is very difficult to
professionalism into the industry which
lamps and horse brasses.
put a price on such an
attachment.”
One cage for all purposes
purchased today will be needed for
exactly the same purpose in a few
years’ time. Flexibility is therefore
becoming extremely important
– especially to the committed
egg producer who already has a
substantial stake in the poultry
industry.
“The past 10 years have seen
many changes with the poultry
industry – particularly with regard
to techniques of management and
housing.
“The outcome of this change
has, without doubt, been of great
benefit to the industry as a whole
but, unfortunately, it has left in its
wake a trail of equipment which
has had to be written off before its
time merely because it has become
out-dated.
‘FOOLISH PRIDE’ OF LAND OWNERS
A
43
ARCHIVES OF
YESTERYEAR
Willy John
HORNBERS have introduced
a new multi-purpose cage
which eliminates the need for
separate brooder-rearing and laying
cages. It replaces the existing range
of Thornber cages completely.
The new cage is so designed
that conversion to any system or
combination of systems (brooding,
rearing, laying or day-old to end
of lay) is possible by the simple
addition or removal of fittings.
Speaking at a reception last week
to launch the new cage, Mr Cyril
Thornber said that now – for the
first time – complete flexibility of
operation could be obtained and,
in his view, it could not have been
timed more appropriately.
“So rapid are the changes now
confronting the poultry industry,”
he said, “that it is unfortunately no
longer possible to predict with any
degree of certainty that equipment
NOVEMBER 23 2017
FORECAST that the days of the
small farmer are numbered
because of the death of what she
calls “the foolish pride so long
attached to owning a bit of land” comes
from one of the country’s few remaining
women involved in full-time farm
management.
“I have never known anything else but
working on the land and on the death of
my father 20 years ago I took over the
running of our 40-acre holding,” 67-yearold Miss Sarah Kerr, (pictured) Cloughfin,
Omagh, Co Tyrone, told FarmWeek.
“Despite the fact that there are several
acres virtually waste I was always able
to manage but the changing pattern of
recent years means that such a holding is
neither economic nor even viable.
“For far too long the older generations

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