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Friday 14 December 2018

Fodder census to be conducted in coming weeks

Farmers making hay as the sun shines.
Farmers making hay as the sun shines.
Ciaran Moran

Ciaran Moran

A fodder census will be conducted nationally over the next 3 weeks.

Details of the 1 July Teagasc/Inter Agency Fodder Census were announced at the Teagasc Beef2018 Open Day in Grange, county Meath, today, Tuesday 26 June.

The fodder census was officially launched by the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed TD. A second census is planned for 1 September.

Dr Siobhan Kavanagh, Teagasc regional advisory manager for Carlow, Wicklow and Wexford said that Teagasc advisors will complete fodder budgets for a random sample of clients and this will be complemented by samples completed by co-ops and farm organisations. 

When completed this survey will give a measure of the fodder situation nationally and will help in planning of any further actions that may be necessary this autumn.

Speaking at Beef 2018, Minister Michael Creed welcomed the launch of the Teagasc/Inter Agency Fodder Census. He stated that the information provided from this survey would be critical to ensuring we have adequate fodder stocks for Winter 2018. 

Many farmers in the country experienced fodder shortages last spring, due to the difficult weather conditions and extended housing period for livestock.

An Interagency Fodder Committee, chaired by Dermot McCarthy, Head of Teagasc Advisory Services has been meeting since March to help farmers through the difficult spring period. Their work has continued into the summer to help rebuild stocks of silage and hay on farms during the peak grass growing season.

Joe Patton, Dairy Specialist at Teagasc said that it is imperative that all farmers do a fodder budget in the next few weeks. Resilience to adverse weather must now be built into feed plans over time.

While first cut silages yielded relatively well this year, emerging drought conditions may result in lower than expected second cut yields; this will have to be accounted for in fodder budgets.

In deficit circumstances, options such as selling low performance stock, contract feeding of young stock and sourcing alternative winter feeds including forward purchasing of straights (soya hulls, beet pulp or palm kernal meal) should now be explored in detail.  

The relative cost difference between purchased silage and concentrate feeds is relatively small.  Also, moderate changes to stock numbers can have a marked effect on reducing winter feed demand.

Fintan Phelan, Teagasc Farm Management specialist, said that while merchant credit was used this spring to finance additional feed inputs, it is now time to put finances on a more solid footing and this may mean re-organising loans or working capital in consultation with lenders.

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