Dairy cows feed requirement could surge by 75pc this year
Teagasc has forecast that the feed requirement of dairy cows could surge by a staggering 75pc this year.
Dairy farmers, who tend to operate at a considerably higher stocking rate than drystock farmers, have been badly affected by extreme weather this year, with many finding that their feed bills have doubled due to the limited availability of grass and fodder.
Accoding to a recent outlook document by Teagasc, latest data shows that the aggregate volume of dairy feed sales in Q1 2018 was up 21pc on the same period in 2017, which can be attributed to the delay in getting cows onto grass.
However, the continuation of unfavourable weather for grass growth in Q2 and Q3 of 2018 will mean that feed use will be well above normal.
Drought conditions have led farmers to take the unusual step of grazing silage land and feeding additional concentrates.
Favourable weather for grass growth from late July through to November will be crucial, to build up fodder supplies for the coming winter.
Overall, given the growth in the dairy cow herd, early indications are that dairy feed use per head in 2018 will far exceed the comparatively high level observed in 2017.
The current estimate, which is based on normal late season grass growth, indicates a 75pc increase in the full year feed requirement per dairy cow in 2018 relative to 2017.