Quarter of farmers still facing a fodder deficit on their farms

A 10pc fodder deficit would equate to two weeks feeding over a five-month winter
A 10pc fodder deficit would equate to two weeks feeding over a five-month winter
Margaret Donnelly

Margaret Donnelly

A quarter of farmers say they have insufficient fodder on their farms, according to the Teagasc Fodder Survey.

As part of the survey 364 Teagasc clients were questioned about their fodder situation during January, which showed that 73pc of farmers have sufficient feed to meet their livestock’s requirements until the planned end of the winter housing period.

It also found there was 12pc (one in eight) of farms with a winter feed deficit of up to 10pc, with the remaining farmers (15pc or one in six) reporting a deficit of greater than 10pc.

A 10pc fodder deficit would equate to two weeks feeding over a five-month winter. On average there was a fodder requirement of 51t DM on farms with 69t DM of fodder in stock on these farms. In all provinces of the country there appears to be sufficient fodder to meet requirements until the planned turnout date.

Commenting on the results, Teagasc Ruminant Nutrition specialist, Brian Garry said that “while on average farmers have reported having enough fodder on hands; one in four farmers reported a fodder deficit, with over half of these reporting a deficit of greater than 10pc.

"So the effects of last summer’s drought could still be felt this spring. This situation could be exacerbated if we get a late spring, resulting in a later turnout than planned on the farms completing this survey.”

Planned turn out dates to grass varied depending on location and enterprise. If weather conditions are not conducive to grazing and/or grass growth after the planned turnout dates, availability issues will quickly arise on farms. Up to 75pc of farmers do not plan on selling surplus silage so the quantity of surplus silage available for purchase will be limited.

Brian Garry reminded farmers of the importance of rechecking fodder supplies and to make arrangements to allow for sufficient quantities of fodder to be available should poor weather conditions occur at expected turnout.

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Key management practises should include:

  • Return stock to grazing as soon as conditions allow – on farm measurements indicate that there is more grass on farms this spring than in previous years
  • Sell animals as they become fit for sale/slaughter
  • Avoid panic buying- purchase feed in advance if possible.
  • Ensure finance is available to purchase additional feed if required

Brian also said that overall there has been an improvement in the national fodder situation, however caution should still be taken on farm to avoid silage losses and ensure fodder is available if weather conditions deteriorate later in the spring.

"The exceptional over winter grass growth will only be of benefit if it is utilised by livestock. Most importantly farmers should take care to ensure health and safety of themselves, family members and employees during this busy period on farm.”

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