Teagasc has just completed its survey of almost 700 winter fodder budgets for drystock and dairy farmers nationwide.
The national picture shows drystock farms reporting a moderate overall fodder surplus of 17% while dairy farms are similarly well placed at 12% overall surplus.
The survey also found that dairy farms in the Midland North East region have a small deficit of 3.8% overall - equivalent to six days feeding in winter, while other regions report that farms in both enterprise categories have surplus feed, on average.
Joe Patton, Teagasc Ruminant Nutrition Specialist said the survey shows that most farms are ‘in relatively good positions’ at the moment.
“The early summer drought-impacted east Leinster dairy farms to some degree, but it is very manageable,” he continued.
“Teagasc recommends carrying a rolling winter feed surplus of 25-30% to insulate against weather shocks and many farms are near that level.
“We still have a cohort struggling to balance the books for winter feed in a good year. It is very important that these farms take steps to improve their long term position.” Meanwhile, Teagasc is warning that farms with deficits of greater than 20% at the onset of winter will face significant practical and financial difficulties feeding their stock.
The survey shows that 9% of dairy farms had a deficit greater than 20% of winter requirements - with the average deficit of this group was 85t Dry Matter (DM).
Similarly, 12% of drystock farms had a deficit greater than 20% of winter requirements with the average deficit for this group at 33t DM.
Micheal O’Leary, Teagasc PastureBase, pointed to how silage makes up about a quarter to one-third of total annual feed on most livestock farms.
“It is vital to plan ahead,” he added.
“The fodder budgeting function on PastureBase Ireland is a useful tool to help grassland farmers complete their feed budgets.
“It is worth considering, even if farmers are not currently measuring grass.
“Grass growth is good at present so farmers should take the opportunity to bolster feed reserves by taking out surplus silage in line with grass cover targets for this time of year.”