Dairy farming systems must build in resilience to weather shocks - Teagasc
Dairy farmers are being warned by Teagasc that the weather is a reality of farming and they must build in resilience to weather shocks.
Speaking at the Teagasc National Dairy Conference in Cork, Dr Joe Patton said that dairy farming systems must build in resilience to weather shocks.
"The multiple weather events of 2018 stretched farm resources – cash, labour, forage and facilities. Underinvestment in labour and facilities, or the lack of a cash reserve, can leave the system exposed to shock or unexpected events.
"The impact of extreme weather events can be reduced by having a reserve of quality fodder on the farm to compensate for weather-induced reductions in pasture growth."
Teagasc, he said, recommends that a reserve of 500 - 800kg DM per cow be built up over time and maintained on a rolling basis.
He said a key lesson from spring 2018 is that relatively small proportional initial shortages can turn into a complete lack of feed for a period by the end of winter (for example running a 10pc feed budget deficit may equate to two weeks full feeding).
"This can be avoided by better planning. Completing a winter feed budget and reviewing in early January should be standard practice on dairy farms."
Despite the numerous weather challenges posed in 2018, he said the prevailing grass based system demonstrated good resilience as evidenced by the overall milk production figures for 2018.