Teagasc predicts 50% shortage of next winter’s silage in wet areas

Teagasc is predicting a 50% shortage in silage made for next winter in wet land areas, based on consultations with advisers in each of its 51 advisory offices across the country.

Teagasc’s Fodder Update found that almost 40% of all livestock farmers were severely affected by the forage crisis. This varies from 10%-15% in the east to 20%-25% in the south and up to 80% in the west and north-west. Continuing heavy rain has seen the situation in the north-west deteriorate significantly.

“From mid-April supplies of forage from the south and west have dried up, and in recent times farmers have been getting supplies from the east of the country and from imports by co-ops, etc,” said Dermot McCarthy, head of Teagasc Advisory. “Teagasc identified the need for such imports at an early stage.

“Teagasc has also contributed silage from Moorepark and Clonakilty College to farmers in need. We have been working closely with farm organisations and with the industry and the Department of Agriculture in these efforts.”

Teagasc has held more than 100 clinics, 35 seminars and 66 farm walks to help farmers evaluate their options. The issues were also addressed at over 800 discussion groups involving 14,000 farmers attending spring meetings.

Teagasc estimates one third of its 40,000 clients have some or all stock indoors due to poor grazing conditions or lack of grass. Almost 40% of clients have purchased fodder to deal with poor grass growth and poor grazing. When surveyed, one quarter of Teagasc’s clients had no ground closed for silage.

Teagasc set up forage exchange data bases in each region. Farmers trying to source fodder outnumbered those supplying fodder by three to one, with around 500 farmers supplying significant amounts of fodder and 1,500 looking for fodder.

However, though farmer groups have welcomed the Department of Agriculture’s amendments this week to the nitrates regulations to support fodder production, they are also seeking for the fodder import transport subsidy, which is officially closed since this morning, to be extended to next week. The subsidy will apply to bales already purchased, but which can’t be transported until next week.

ICSA president Gabriel Gilmartin said the import subsidy, has made a “huge difference” to the cost of the imported bales, which have been a lifeline for so many farmers over the past number of weeks.

Mr Gilmartin said: “The demand for bales hasn’t let up, particularly in the north west and the border counties, so the likelihood is that more hay will need to be bought next week — but these won’t be covered by the scheme. I would urge the minister to extend the scheme in full until at least Jun 1, or until this crisis comes to an end.”

- Meanwhile, applications for the new Teagasc professional diploma in dairy farm management must be submitted by the closing date of next Friday. Application forms and details are available on the Teagasc website at www.teagasc.ie. Completed applications should be submitted to Teagasc Kildalton College, Piltown, Co Kilkenny.

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