Farmers should budget their remaining fodder stocks in response to the sustained rainfall, Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney has warned.
He noted that, despite a difficult start to 2013, silage and hay production was excellent last year both in terms of quality and quantity. Significant volumes of alternatives such as fodder beet, maize, and straw were also conserved.
He added that concentrate feeds have come down significantly in price from last year. Used strategically, these feeds can allow fodder stocks to be extended. Subject to normal turn-out of stock, fodder reserves should be sufficient within the country, he said.
“In view of the adverse weather, it is important that farmers ensure remaining forage stocks are carefully managed as we approach the end of the winter housing period,” said Mr Coveney.
“The recent very wet weather, coupled with the delay in application of fertiliser, is placing additional burdens on winter fodder stocks, particularly in areas where early grazing is normally practiced.”
Mr Coveney advised farmers to seek advice from their local Teagasc adviser or agricultural consultant. He said farmers could use the fodder-budgeting tool that has been developed by Teagasc and the inter-agency fodder.
However, Mr Coveney said he recognised that on some farms there will be challenges with fodder availability. He has asked Teagasc to undertake a number of initiatives to ensure farmers have access to the best available advice to manage their remaining fodder stocks and that this be a priority for the next number of weeks.
Meanwhile, the Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers’ Association has welcomed news that vehicles transporting fodder will receive a special derogation under recent height restriction legislation.
The group’s president, Patrick Kent, said: “It was critically important that loads of fodder were not subject to the new height restrictions because the cost implications would be far too severe.
“[Transport Minister Leo] Varadkar has taken the common-sense approach here and I very much welcome the exemption.”
“I commend Martin Heydon TD for bringing forward the proposal to create the exemption for these types of loads.”
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