Farmers say they are short of silage for next winter with 38% of dairy farmers and 15% of drystock farmers saying they don’t have enough feed harvested to keep their animals over the winter.
A fodder survey carried out by Teagasc advisers of farmers in discussion groups shows that the deficit in silage stocks on farms for next winter ranges from 10% to 40%.
The average deficit is 23%. To compound the situation, over half of farmers are feeding silage to livestock at present, further eating into stocks. On farms where there are adequate silage stocks, the quality of the silage will have major implications for supplementary feed costs and animal performance next winter.
Carried out from 17 to 27 July, the Teagasc survey shows that 87% of dairy farmers and 79% of drystock farmers had completed the harvesting of their first cut silage. Normally at this time of the year, farmers would all have completed harvesting their first cut silage.
Teagasc said due to the ongoing bad weather huge numbers of farmers are seeking advice on how to deal with the situation. Teagasc has run a series of clinics for farmers over the past month. These will continue while farmers continue to need advice on how to manage the difficult weather conditions.
Teagasc animal nutrition specialist Dr Siobhan Kavanagh said: “Every farm is different and some farms are under more pressure than others.
“Teagasc is offering farmers individual tailor made advice on how to cope with the situation on their farm,” she said.
The Teagasc survey shows that farmers are taking a range of measures to address the situation. Nine out of 10 dairy farmers are currently providing supplementary meal to their dairy cows.
Thirty percent of dairy farmers surveyed and 17% of drystock farmers said they sold livestock to alleviate fodder problems.
Eight out of 10 dairy farmers and over half of drystock farmers have spread fertiliser in July to boost grass production. Sixty three percent of farmers say that grass supplies on their farms are either scarce or very scarce, with ground conditions being poor in many areas, even where grass supplies are adequate.
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