Cold snap drives fodder price hike
FODDER costs have increased sharply as a result of the recent cold spell, with prices as high as €40/bale being quoted for silage.
Increased demand for feed has driven up costs by as much as €10-13 for 4x4 bales in some areas.
Quotes for round-bale silage range from €20/bale in Laois and €25/bale in Wicklow and Louth to as high as €30-40/ bale in the west of the country.
Good quality hay is scarce and the small quantities that are available are being sold for as much as €35/bale.
Flood-stricken farmers in the western counties are expected to be worst hit by the rising fodder prices. Many of those who received emergency fodder donations are now coming to the end of their supplies.
It is understood that some 170 farmers have applied to the Department of Agriculture for funding under its €2m Fodder Aid Scheme.
However, at the time when Department officials calculated the cost of replacing damaged fodder supplies, the average price quoted for silage bales was around €27/bale.
Michael Silke, IFA Connacht vice-president, said the situation in the west was still critical.
"The flooding has subsided somewhat but farmers only have enough fodder to keep them going until mid-January," Mr Silke said.
"Fodder is scarce and the whole thing is critical so we are keeping a watchful eye," he said.
Farmers in the west are fervently hoping to avoid a repeat of last month's flooding.
"If we got a heavy fall of rain or snow, we could be back to square one again," warned Mr Silke.
Met Eireann is forecasting that the current bitterly cold spell will continue until the weekend at least, with freezing conditions predicted for most areas. Wintry showers of sleet and snow are expected along the western, northern and eastern coasts.
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