Merchants taking a lead in importing high quality straw
I recently spoke at an IFA county executive meeting with my headline topic being how to stretch scarce fodder supplies and alternative feed options this winter.
Judging by the feedback from those in the audience, no livestock farmer, regardless of their stocking rate, has been untouched by this drought and the consequences will reverberate well into 2019.
On the night and over the past number of weeks I have been reiterating the importance of conducting an accurate feed budget, which will determine whether forage is in deficit and if so, by how much.
Beef industry standards here in Ireland generally budget a minimum of 40pc of the animal's intake from forage in a finishing diet, 80pc forage in a weanling and lactating suckler cow and 90pc in the diet of a dry suckler cow.
The balance of these intakes can be made up of long fibre such as straw and hay, root crops, distillery and brewing by-products, cereals, proteins and digestible fibre sources. In many cases, the above standards will have to be adjusted this winter due to the obvious shortages of forage and straw.
Where silage supplies are at a premium but straw is available, then the forage content can be halved across all categories of stock.
For finishing cattle, reducing the forage content to 10pc of their intake is possible, provided the energy, protein and digestible fibre sources are correctly selected and balanced.
It appears that a number of merchants have acted quickly and taken the lead in the importation of high quality straw, straw pellets and nutritionally enhanced straw.