Monday 22 July 2019

Dairygold unveils measures to address drought and fodder crisis

Dairygold’s head of agribusiness, Liam O’Flaherty
Dairygold’s head of agribusiness, Liam O’Flaherty

Bill Browne

Dairygold has announced it is to implement what has been described as a series of "intervention and mitigation" measures for its members to address ongoing drought-related problems and fodder shortage issues.

The company's head of agribusiness, Liam O'Flaherty, said the measures would "pro-actively address the current and longer-term issues relating to the summer drought", which has seen grass growth plummet to 30 per cent of normal levels for this time of year. 

"From our ongoing fodder surveys, Dairygold has identified a potential shortfall of around 25 per cent of winter fodder supplies. In recognition of this and the current prolonged period of drought, the Society has launched key measures to support farmers at this time," said Mr O'Flaherty. 

"These measures are deigned to both mitigate the current grass shortages and facilitate the provision of sufficient fodder for the coming winter," he added. 

Mr O'Flaherty pointed out that Dairygold was the first to import fodder for farmers following the long winter and cold spring, which had significantly affected grass growth. 

"More than 7,000 tonnes of fodder was imported and distributed to members in a major logistical operation that put a national spotlight on the difficulties farmers faced," he said.  "We are once again taking a proactive approach through the introduction of these mitigating measures that will focus on three key areas." 

These will incorporate managing the ongoing drought and fodder situation; maximising grass and forage crop growth to build up winter food stocks; and calculating and implementing strategies to minimise future feed deficit gaps. 

Specific measures include the development of 'grass extender' feed options, allowing farmers to conserve additional winter feed across late summer and autumn; and a feed planing programme to help farmers select a fodder conservation strategy based on their individual needs. 

The company is also offering interest-free credit to members on feed and fertiliser purchased in July and August. 

"We are also encouraging members to continue to feed strategically to maintain grass rotation length and to have adequate fertiliser supplies on-farm to allow for timely spreading," said Mr O'Flaherty. 

The company is also facilitating links between tillage and livestock farmers for farm-to-farm whole crop trading where suitable, and it is providing specialist technical bulletins and on-farm support and advice on the issue. 

"Dairygold is providing specialist agronomy advice and promotions to cereal farmers to encourage the sowing of 'catch crops' after the grain harvest. These have the potential to provide a valuable additional source of fodder for livestock farmers over the coming winter. They also provide additional income and a positive rotational benefit for cereal growers," said Mr O'Flaherty. 

He said that Dairygold's advisory and technical teams had been supporting members on an ongoing basis through specialist advice, compiling surveys and hosting information events. 

"Our agri mill and field teams have also been working around the clock to deal with the unprecedented demand for feed deliveries, and we thank our members for their co-operation and patience," said Mr O'Flaherty. 

"For more information about the new series of measures contact your Dairygold areas sales manager and/or your milk advisor, or contact 022 31644," he added.