Increased livestock deaths in the past 18 months on their farms were revealed by quarter of those who took part in the Irish Examiner/ICMSA opinion poll.
This arose in the section of the poll where they were asked to think about the severe weather conditions in Ireland over the past 18 months, and asked if certain statements applied to them.
Some 24% said the statement “As a result of these weather conditions, I saw an increase in livestock mortality rate” applied to them, while 76% said it didn’t.
Of those surveyed in this year’s poll, 56% said they had livestock or cattle, 33% were in dairying.
Therefore 11% may not be livestock owners (if none of the tillage farmers or “other” farmers have livestock), and the 24% may represent up to 27% of livestock owners in the survey.
This poll result tallies with Department of Agriculture statistics which showed that cattle deaths on farms soared last April and March, as fodder shortage intensified.
Deaths increased 22% in April and 30% in March, compared to 2017 levels.
On-farm deaths in April were up from 34,405 in 2017 to 44,625 in 2018.
The deaths in March increased from 43,711 in 2017 to 53,258 in 2018.
The figures for February were 33,454 in 2017 and 36,466 in 2018.
The total of on-farm bovine deaths for the first four months of 2018 increased from 130,480 in 2017 to 156,877 in 2018, up 20%.
The jump in cattle deaths can be mainly attributed to bad weather since the autumn of 2017 reducing grazing and provision of winter fodder.
About 18,000 tonnes of imported forage was required, as a result.
Just over one third in the survey said the statement “I have reduced my farming intensity because of these weather condition” applied to them.
And 43% said the statement “The weather conditions have had no impact on my farming intensity” applied to them.
However, farmers are still coping with the after-effects of the late winter and drought, and 43% in the poll said the statement, “In light of these weather conditions, I am going to cut back on livestock in order to cope”, applies to them. Just over one third said the statement, “Despite these weather conditions, I have enough winter fodder”, does not apply them.
There was only a relatively small sample of tillage farmers in the poll, but their answers indicated they were affected even worse by bad weather than livestock and dairy farmers.