West­ern farm­ers are fac­ing win­ter fod­der cri­sis

Irish Independent - Farming - - NEWS - CLAIRE FOX

A WIN­TER fod­der cri­sis is loom­ing in some parts of the coun­try, farm ad­vi­sors and feed mer­chants have warned.

Farm­ers in the north-west have al­ready used a sig­nif­i­cant share of win­ter fod­der.

Farm ad­vi­sors and feed mer­chants are warn­ing that vari­able silage qual­ity, the re­stricted avail­abil­ity of straw, and in­creased cow num­bers could cause dif­fi­cul­ties for highly-stocked dairy farms.

Tea­gasc ad­vi­sor Tom Coll said he had never seen ground con­di­tions as bad in the north-west.

“This is the worst I’ve seen in 23 years in the ad­vi­sory ser­vice. There are two inches of rain on top of ground at this stage.

“Land is just sat­u­rated,” said Mr Coll who works in Sligo, Leitrim and south Done­gal.

While grass growth has been good in re­cent weeks be­cause of high tem­per­a­tures, farm­ers have been un­able to get live­stock out on grass be­cause of the atro­cious ground con­di­tions.

Cat­tle have been housed in much of the north-west since early Septem­ber, but Mr Coll said many farm­ers were now hous­ing sheep be­cause they were “walk­ing grass cov­ers into the ground”.

In­creased prob­lems with lame­ness, due to f locks stand­ing in wa­ter the whole time, were also an is­sue, he ex­plained.

He said the early hous­ing of suck­ler cows, dairy herds and heavy beef stock has caused con­cerns on the fod­der front.

“Some lads are in dire straits,” Mr Coll said. “A lot of men with sec­ond cut silage never got near it.”

He said sig­nif­i­cant stocks of silage had al­ready been fed on farms and he ad­vised live­stock own­ers to do a fod­der bud­get for their win­ter feed re­quire­ments as a mat­ter of ur­gency.

He said farm­ers should scan all cows and sell empty fe­males, and all other nonessen­tial stock.

Mr Coll said the short­age of silage could best be made up with a mix of straights, such as soya hulls or bar­ley, or with con­cen­trates. He ad­vised against buy­ing round bales of silage.

Lucky bags

“You are re­ally buy­ing lucky bags at this time of the year when you buy round bales; you don’t know what you are get­ting.

“You could be buy­ing a bale of rushes. With the con­cen­trates and straights, at least you know the feed­ing value,” he ex­plained.

Done­gal farm ad­vi­sor Peter Can­non said a lot of farm­ers in the south­west of the county were al­ready sell­ing cat­tle early be­cause of the fod­der sit­u­a­tion, and some men were sell­ing suck­ler cows.

“If it comes a good Fe­bru­ary, the sheep men will be clear, but it will take a great March to save the cat­tle man,” he said.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Ireland

© PressReader. All rights reserved.