Farm Ireland

Friday 24 November 2017

Fodder audit to take snapshot of crisis

Caitriona Murphy

Caitriona Murphy

A national fodder audit set to take place on July 1 aims to take a snapshot of the predicted fodder shortage for the coming winter.

Fodder Census 2013 is being organised by Teagasc and will be supported by co-ops, marts and farm organisations in an effort to help farmers decide what action will be necessary to avoid a repeat of the disastrous spring this year.

Speaking ahead of the national census, Teagasc nutritionist Dr Siobhan Kavanagh said farmers who acted earliest in the winter/spring of 2012/2013 had fared best when it came to fodder shortage.

Nutritionists are urging farmers to increase their fodder stocks for next winter by 10-20pc, to replace depleted silage stocks.

"Once you have at least 50 to 60pc of your winter silage requirements, you have options available," said Dr Kavanagh.

A fodder worksheet to calculate on-farm stocks will be printed in next week's Farming Independent and will also be available from co-ops, merchants and marts across the country.

Where farmers find that they are facing a shortage of feed for next winter, they will need to take several steps on the farm.

These include reducing feed demand by selling off cull and empty cows, selling store cattle and finishing cattle on concentrate and minimal silage.

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To maximise grass growth on farms, farmers are advised to use 20-30 units of nitrogen on grazing ground and remove surplus grass as bales.

Other options to address the shortfall include buying standing crops of silage, bales or pits of silage.

Buying in extra concentrate, growing forage crops or buying in alternative forages like maize silage, wholecrop cereal silage or fodder beet are also options.

Dr Kavanagh urged farmers not to panic buy and to consult an agricultural adviser before making a decision.

A second fodder audit is planned for October 1.

Irish Independent