Farm Ireland
Independent.ie

Monday 24 September 2018

Fears for 'thin' cows as nightmare spring continues for farmers

Local farmers cutting sileage at Shannon Airport's 400 acres today to alleviate the fodder crisis. Photograph by Eamon Ward.
Local farmers cutting sileage at Shannon Airport's 400 acres today to alleviate the fodder crisis. Photograph by Eamon Ward.

Louise Hogan and Ciaran Moran

Fodder shortage hit farmers are set to get no respite this week as Met Eireann are forecasting frost, hail, thunder and temperatures as low as 0C.

Farmers will be counting the costs of mounting feed and forage bills for months to come.

Vets and AI technicians looking towards the breeding season for cow herds have warned there may be a costly knock-on impact. Tipperary-based vet Eamon O'Connell said that in some cases cows were "thin", and that a good body condition score was vital ahead of breeding.

"We are expecting a lot of repeats from the first service. It will affect compact calving; there will be more empty cows and later calving," he said.

Meanwhile, Agri-advisors have raised concerns about the pressures being placed on tillage farmers with the volume of work left to be completed due to the late spring.

George Ramsbottom urged farmers to reach out to each other and talk about their heavy workloads and the financial costs of the harsh winter.

Gordon Warren from Rosdillig, Co Carlow.Photo Roger Jones.
Gordon Warren from Rosdillig, Co Carlow.Photo Roger Jones.

"There is a level of depression at farm level that I wouldn't have seen for a number of years. It has been a long, hard few weeks.

"Basically some people are still in winter mode. There is an awareness that this year is not going to be as good a year as other years," he said.

"But sharing experiences is a great antidote."

Farmers from Kerry to Tipperary and Clare to Limerick got a well-deserved reprieve this week as they received bales from the 1,200 plus crop harvested at Shannon Airport over the weekend.

Cattle in the sheds at Rory McEvoys farm near Mountmellick, Co Laois. Picture Credit:FRank Mc Grath
4/4/18
Cattle in the sheds at Rory McEvoys farm near Mountmellick, Co Laois. Picture Credit:FRank Mc Grath 4/4/18

Three days of grass cutting ended on Sunday evening at the airport, with the 1,265 bales despatched throughout the weekend to worst hit farmers across the region.

The silage harvesting began on Friday morning and continued right through to Sunday as the airport acceded to the request from the IFA to allow grass across its 400 acre site to be cut.

For a farmers view of the fodder crisis read: 'You can see the despair on the farmers' faces at the marts' - This Leitrim farmer has cattle indoors since August

Forecast

While Wednesday will start bright, heavy showers will spread across the country as the day goes on and some of these showers may fall as hail, with isolated thunder showers also possible.

Temperatures will stay between 9C and 13C but it will feel cooler thanks to strong winds.

Thursday is predicted to see similar conditions, with a mixture of heavy showers and gusty winds all across the country.

Thursday night will see the rain turn more persistent, though the north of the country may remain dry.

However, temperatures are set to plunge, dipping as low as 0C in places with a risk of grass frost.

It is expected that Friday will begin bright for most of the country but again showers will spread across the country during the day.

With an absence of winds, Met Eireann's Liz Walsh said on Morning Ireland that these showers would be 'heavy and slow moving' and may also fall as hail.

The showers will clear by Friday night but clear skies will again see temperatures fall, ranging between 0C and 2C.

The outlook for the weekend is for more of the same, with a mixture of sunny spells, and scattered showers.


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