Farm Ireland

Thursday 18 January 2018

Bad weather will affect farm incomes

There appears to be no let up in the atrocious weather.

While Jean Byrne and co are predicting that the week ahead should offer some respite from the torrential rain, weather conditions are far from settled.

The outlook for this week is that temperatures will increase, with some mild and warm weather forecast, but the rains are to continue piling in.

This will be further bad news for both farmers and contractors who have endured a measure of purgatory over the past month with the silage harvest.

Martin Ryan's story on the front page confirms that at least 60pc of the crop remains to be cut in areas with heavier soils, particularly in the west and northwest.

The quality of silage harvested this year has taken a hammering, which has obvious implications for winter feed needs for both dairy and beef farmers.

Adding to the difficulties with ensiling wet silage, many of the crops have gone to seed at this stage, so while there might be bulk in the crops, the feed value will be a lot poorer than normal.

To add to the woes, there are also fears that the second cut of silage may be hit, given the collapse in grass growth rates and the inability of farmers to get fertiliser out because of poor ground conditions.

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Teagasc nutritionist, Siobhan Kavanagh is advising farmers to defer cutting until conditions improve. She says loss of quality is preferable to poorly preserved silage cut in very wet conditions.

There is a possibility that things could turn if the weather mproves. A good second half to the summer, or even a fine back-end, would transform the situation.

But whether this happens is in the lap of the gods. Already the weather is beginning to have an impact on farmer incomes.

Dairy farmers have seen milk yields fall sharply this month, with output per cow dropping by as much as 2.5l/day in some instances.

This has been reflected in milk deliveries to processors. Milk supplies to Kerry were back 1.8pc last week relative to the same week in 2011. For the quota, year-to-date supplies are back 0.6pc.

The drop in milk deliveries has been even greater at Dairygold, with June supplies running 3pc back on last year.

Also farmers are being forced to consider buying feed to make up for the severe drop in grass growth and it is clear 2012 is not going to be the bonanza year for the dairy sector that 2011 was.

Indo Farming