How to calculate now how much silage you will need next winter
This spring has tested the mental resolve of farmers up and down the country. It has been a huge battle to ensure that our cattle have had enough feed in front of them and for many, the battle continues.
It may be hard to focus on securing tomorrow's dinner when there's only barely enough for today's, but that is now where the focus has to shift to.
At the recent grassland Farmer of the Year walk, at Eddie O'Donnell's farm in Tipperary, a graph presented to the attendees that day showed that 10pc of the grass we grow on our farms annually is grown in the spring, the other 90pc is grown in the summer and autumn.
So to put it into GAA terms, we're five minutes into the game and we've conceded a few early scores, but we've 65 minutes left to try claw back the lead.
The first step in securing enough feed for next winter is to figure out how much feed do we need? At recent discussion group meetings, this tends to range from five months for those on free draining soils to seven months on heavier soils. Work out what you think is your core winter housing period and then add one month's buffer to help safeguard against future weather related events.
How to calculate how much silage will be eaten
The next step is to calculate the number of mouths that will be eating the silage over the winter. The table is a very simplified winter feed budget that most farmers should be able to attempt completing.
Now that we know how much winter feed we need, the next challenge is getting it.
Fertiliser is yet to go out for silage on many farms. This needs to be spread as soon as conditions permit. Reduce Nitrogen by 10-20pc but ensure the crop gets adequate phosphorus and potassium. Four bags of 18-6-12 per acre should deliver an adequate crop now.