Farmers offload stock as fodder crisis looms
Mills struggle to cope with demand for feed and soaring quotes
ThIS year is set to eclipse the fodder crisis of 2009 as broken weather and spiralling feed costs force farmers to sell off non-essential stock.
Dairy farmers told the Farming Independent how they were selling spring calving heifers now in a desperate bid to conserve dwindling feed supplies for milking stock. "Anything that can't be milked is being off-loaded," said Listowel mart manager, Barney O'Connell.
Numbers were reported to be double normal levels in Skibbereen Mart last week. However, demand for plainer stock at marts has weakened as the worsening feed situation has frightened off potential customers.
Cull cows were back by €150 a head in Listowel. Both cows and stores were down by at least €100 in Castle Island, according to mart boss Richard Harnett.
"Farmers could spell confidence backwards up to the start of July, but it has evaporated ever since," he said.
Continuing bad weather has forced increasing numbers of stock indoors, with grass growth rates at one third of normal levels on heavier soils.
"Looking at how low growth rates have fallen on heavier monitor farms, I'm getting worried about what will happen with feed supplies next month," said Teagasc grass researcher, Michael O'Donovan. "The prolonged nature of the bad spell is making it a more serious situation than 2009."