Farmers beef up security in effort to thwart fodder thieves
WICKLOW farmer Tom Stephenson has beefed up security on his farm by using old farm machinery to block gates in an effort to protect his straw and hay from being stolen.
Mr Stephenson, a drystock and tillage farmer in the Glen of Imaal, told the Farming Independent that he had bales stolen last winter and that there was a fodder theft recently on a neighbouring farm.
"One farmer three or four miles away from me had between 130-150 bales of hay stolen and I had 13 bales stolen last winter.
"The demand for straw is so great I decided to block the gate into the field with the winter barley straw with trailers and slurry tankers so people won't steal it.
"It's common enough that hay and straw are stolen and there's always someone out there who will be opportunistic and take a chance."
Other cases of straw theft have been reported in Kilkenny and Laois.
The trade for straw remains exceptionally strong, according to cereal growers, with demand being driven by hard-pressed livestock farmers.
One grower in Laois described the level of competition for straw as "savage", with barley straw generally selling for between €27 and €30 per 4x4 bale. He said farmers were generally paying up front in order to secure supplies.
Prices are even higher in the northern half of the country, with farmers from the Six Counties adding to demand.
Up to €35-40 has been quoted for 4x4 bales and a top of €100 for 8x4x4 bales.
"The market for straw is just crazy. It's like a lottery; you'll be paid what you ask for it," said one Louth farmer.
PHOTO: ROGER JONES