'I thought I had plenty of silage – but I was totally out' - 190 cow dairy farmer on coping with an empty silage pit
The sight of an empty silage pit is something no farmer wants to see when there is little or no grass in the waterlogged fields.
Yet Rory McEvoy, a dairy and beef farmer from outside Rosenallis, Co Laois, found himself, like many farmers, in that unenviable position.
Luckily for the 33-year-old, who milks 190 cows with his father John, as well as keeping some cattle for beef, they were able to buy in some silage from a spare pit that a local farmer had.
“I was totally out,” he said, adding they were now feeding 7 tonnes of bought in silage a day along with extra meal to cows in the parlour. “I’d normally have the cows out by day and by night.”
He added: “I thought at the start of the year I had plenty of silage but since Christmas and with the cold weather I felt I was going through a lot of it and the silage pit disappeared fast.” During the previous difficult winter of 2013, he said they were also forced to buy in a lot of silage.
Looking out at his waterlogged fields, Rory said it was impossible to let out the cows as the entire farm is “swimming” in water after the heavy falls over the weekend. “I have year old heifers on silage ground and they are after going to their knees in it. I’m afraid to go look at them. I don’t think I will bring them in. I’m terrified I’ll run out of silage with the cows,” he said.
Yet for the McEvoys the fodder shortage has not been the worst hurdle they have had to overcome as in periods over the past four years they have been ‘locked up’ after TB was identified on the farm.
“The Department took 50 cows off of us two days before Christmas four years ago. To come back into the yard and see a shed empty of cows. That was the hardest day,” he said, adding in total they had 180 animals taken off them and destroyed due to TB over the past four years.