Farm Ireland
Independent.ie

Wednesday 20 September 2017

Farmers urged to participate in fodder audit

Caitriona Murphy

Caitriona Murphy

Teagasc is spearheading a national fodder census to assess the potential forage deficit on farms for the winter of 2013/2014.

Every farmer in the country is being encouraged to fill out a fodder census form next Tuesday, July 1. The census form is printed here (left).

The aim of the census is to help farmers identify any potential fodder problem on their farm as early as possible and then tackle the issue head-on.

Teagasc nutritionist Siobhan Kavanagh said experience had shown that farmers who fared best in the fodder shortage of last spring had been those who acted early to preserve scarce silage stocks during the winter.

Early indications are that the country could be as much as 30pc short of fodder next winter and all farmers are being advised to increase their stocks by 10-20pc above normal.

When the form, left, is completed, farmers will know whether they will have a shortage or surplus of silage.

Teagasc advisers and private agricultural consultants are available to help farmers to fill out the census forms, if necessary.

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Teagasc can provide an alternative form for farmers who produce or buy in other crops such as maize silage, wholecrop silage or fodder beet.

Where farmers find they will have a shortage of feed for next winter, they will need to take several steps on the farm.

These include reducing feed demand by selling off cull and empty cows, selling store cattle and finishing cattle on concentrate and minimal silage.

To maximise grass growth on farms, farmers are advised to apply 20-30 units of nitrogen to grazing ground and remove surplus grass as bales, where possible.

Other options for farmers include buying standing crops of silage, bales or pits of silage.

Buying in extra concentrate or buying in alternative forages such as maize silage, wholecrop cereal silage or fodder beet is another option.

Dr Kavanagh urged farmers not to panic-buy feedstuffs to fill the gap and consult an agricultural adviser before making a decision.

All farmers are being encouraged to complete the form (left) and, if necessary, consult with agricultural advisers.

A second fodder audit is planned for October 1.

Irish Independent