Bitter cold, hail and sleet forecast in run-up to Easter
Many farmers running low on fodder
Keep the winter woollies to hand as the lead-up to Easter will be marked by bitter cold, rain, hail and sleet. Overnight temperatures will hover around the freezing mark with frost expected over the next three nights.
Tomorrow will be cold with heavy showers, possibly even hail and sleet on western and northern hills.
Daytime temperatures will remain in the low single digits tomorrow, with highs of just 5C to 8C.
Thursday will see early frost and ice clearing as some sunny spells develop.
There is mounting concern over the potential fodder shortages, with many parts of the south and south-east now feeling the pinch.
Soil conditions and continuing poor grass growth has prevented farmers from letting stock back out to the fields.
With many farmers running low on fodder, farm advisors have warned that the situation could escalate into a serious fodder crisis unless the weather improves.
Kilkenny-based Teagasc advisor Terry Carroll said that a fodder survey had not been undertaken in the south-east but anecdotal evidence suggested that the farmers were running tight on fodder.
"Another two weeks of feeding would have people very tight," Mr Carroll said.
He said poor ground conditions in the south-east meant that farmers were unable to get stock out on grass.
Baled silage in the south is moving for between €25 and €28 per bale, however, Teagasc is advising farmers to feed increased meal where possible because of the variable quality of the silage on offer in some areas.
Dairy consultant Mary Kinston said grass growth in north Kerry was generally running at 50pc of the normal levels.
Growth rates of 10kg/ha/day are currently being recorded in the south-west, but rates of 25kg/ha/day would be closer to normal.
Low soil temperatures are continuing to restrict grass growth. Ms Kinston said if temperatures were to rise to 8°C, every subsequent jump of 1°C would add 14kg/ha/day to grass growth levels.
However, grazing grounds also needs to dry out, with growth levels taking a major hit on saturated soils.