Farm Ireland

Saturday 16 December 2017

Costs and stress levels rising on farms

John Donworth, Teagasc
John Donworth, Teagasc
Louise Hogan

Louise Hogan

Workloads, costs and stress levels continue to rise on farms due to poor grass growth around the country, Teagasc has warned.

John Noonan, an advisor in Mayo, said the poor spring weather was having a "big impact", with cases of pneumonia in lambs and more mis-mothering. "There is more pressure, stress and hassle on farms," he said.

Mr Noonan estimated every additional day inside for ewes was costing up to €70-€80 a day for a 100-ewe flock.

He pointed out the average growth rates recorded on PastureBase were 13kg/ha/day, less than half of the usual growth rates for this time of year. However, he pointed out if April temperatures picked up, there would be rapid growth rates.

Teagasc cattle specialist James Keane said it was costing farmers €2 per cow for every extra day spent housed, or €1/day for yearling stock. He said there was still a good volume of fodder available, but he urged farmers to try not to push the silage cutting date out too far as it would impact on second cut silage.

"The growth is very poor and people are in a tough spot as conditions are atrocious," he said.

Teagasc Kerry and Limerick regional manager John Donworth said dairy farmers were feeding 5-6kg ration when normally they would only require 2kg.

He warned that grass grazed in the first rotation only had 600-700kgDM/ha regrowth and was too low for grazing.

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"Guys are trying to feed their way out of it by using every trick in the book to slow it down," he said.

Mr Donworth estimated it was costing €2.75/cow/day to try and keep milk solids up and body condition score to ensure good fertility.

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