'Every day that my cows kept indoors is costing around €100'
For Cork dairy farmer Dan Bourke fodder deliveries from the UK simply couldn't have been timed better.
"I ran out of fodder yesterday so I suppose it's very good timing," he said last week as imported fodder started to land in Ireland.
Dan travelled to the Dairygold Co-op SuperStore outlet in Millstreet for the first delivery of UK-sourced fodder under the Government's €1.5m feed support scheme.
A Nolan Transport articulated lorry began unloading giant fodder bales from 11am - and farmers desperate for feed for their hungry animals quickly formed a queue of tractors, jeeps and trailers to haul away their two bale limit.
The entire operation was watched, in heavy rain, by Agriculture Minister Michael Creed and Dairygold boss Jim Woulfe.
Dan's son, Brandon (9), also watched as their bales were eagerly loaded for transport back to their Kilcorney farm just outside Millstreet.
"It has been a very tough winter," Dan said.
"The problem is that the animals went in so early. They have been in since around November. Usually you'd hope to have them well out on grass by now."
Dan admitted that 2013 was another very difficult year fodder-wise due to the weather.
"That was an expensive year - and this will be another very expensive year," he said.
"Even if we get great weather and sunshine from now on, it will still be another two weeks before fields are ready to have cattle let out on them."
Dan milks around 80 cows at his Kilcorney holding - and said every day that they are now kept indoors is costing around €100.
Another 30 days of keeping animals inside could cost producers anything to the order of €3,000.
"The other problem is that the milk will be way down on what it would be if they were out in the fields and there was good grass growth.
"So it is losses and extra costs no matter which way you turn."
Dan stressed that livestock farmers simply have to get on with it.
"It is either that or go bust - you just have to keep working away and doing your best."
He said the Government's fodder support initiative was very welcome - but, like other producers, he said livestock farmers would like to see something done to address the massive extra costs they have had to endure because of the miserable winter and delayed spring.