Win­ter fod­der qual­ity ‘ex­tremely vari­able’

Irish Independent - Farming - - NEWS -

MANY farm­ers are fac­ing into the win­ter with fod­der that is of ques­tion­able qual­ity, ac­cord­ing to silage anal­y­sis re­sults.

Test re­sults from a num­ber of dif­fer­ent bod­ies in­di­cate that silage qual­ity is ex­tremely vari­able, with dry mat­ter val­ues gen­er­ally back by at least a point on last year to an av­er­age of around 67 DMD.

Conor But­ler of FBA Laboratories said the 2,000-plus silage sam­ples an­a­lysed by the firm to date were a “mixed bag”. While he said the ex­pec­ta­tions of farm­ers who cut silage in early sum­mer were quite high, he pointed out that low DMD and el­e­vated am­mo­nia lev­els were a prob­lem in many in­stances.

Mr But­ler said that the good weather in May meant that many silage crops ma­tured quicker than nor­mal and farm­ers cut early. How­ever, this did not leave enough time for the fer­tiliser to leave crops and the re­sult­ing silage has am­mo­nia lev­els of up to 25pc of to­tal ni­tro­gen when the fig­ure should be in the re­gion of 10pc.

High am­mo­nia lev­els in silage makes the crop ex­tremely dif­fi­cult to man­age as the face of the pit goes off very quickly, Mr But­ler ex­plained.

He at­trib­uted this year’s re­duced silage qual­ity to the poor fer­til­ity of Ir­ish soils as a re­sult of low P and K, and pH lev­els.

Sam­ples

Mr But­ler pointed out that just 9pc of soil sam­ples tested by FBA Laboratories had pH val­ues in op­ti­mum range of 6.3 to 6.5. Donal Mul­lane of Tea­gasc in Clon­mel said silage anal­y­sis re­sults from a num­ber of client farm­ers around Tip­per­ary ranged from 62 DMD to 72 DMD and av­er­age 67 DMD.

He said the DMD val­ues at the lower end of the spec­trum were gen­er­ally from crops cut dur­ing the bad weather in the first 10 days in June.

Mr Mul­lane ad­vised farm­ers to test their silage again as they move back opened pits or started to feed from new clamps. Es­tab­lish­ing the ex­act feed­ing value of silage was vi­tal when cows start calv­ing and beef farm­ers are fin­ish­ing cat­tle, Mr Mul­lane said. The poorer than ex­pected silage re­sults add to mount­ing fears of fod­der short­ages this win­ter, par­tic­u­larly in the north-west.

As a con­se­quence, Aurivo is or­gan­is­ing three free in­for­ma­tion evenings at which ex­perts from its Home­land and Nu­trias brands will of­fer prac­ti­cal ad­vice and sup­port on pre­dict­ing fod­der needs and cal­cu­lat­ing po­ten­tial short­ages, steps to re­duce de­mand on cur­rent sup­plies, manag­ing silage ground that could not be har­vested and util­is­ing strong graz­ing cov­ers in chal­leng­ing un­der­foot con­di­tions. A rep­re­sen­ta­tive from Men­tal Health Ire­land will also dis­cuss how the pres­sure of such short­ages can im­pact on farm­ers’ well-be­ing and rep­re­sen­ta­tives from fi­nan­cial in­sti­tu­tions will be on hand to of­fer ad­vice on manag­ing ad­di­tional ex­penses this win­ter.

The events are tak­ing place at the fol­low­ing lo­ca­tions: Done­gal, Novem­ber 13 — Do­ri­ans Ho­tel, Ballyshan­non at 8pm; Sligo, Novem­ber 15 — Sligo Park Ho­tel, Sligo at 8pm; Leitrim, Novem­ber 23rd — Bush Ho­tel, Car­rick on Shannon at 8pm.

Mean­while, the IFA will hold a ma­jor rally in Clare­mor­ris, Co Mayo, on Fri­day, De­cem­ber 1 to high­light fod­der con­cerns in the north-west. IFA Con­nacht chair­man, Padraic Joyce, said the as­so­ci­a­tion is seek­ing a Gov­ern­ment aid pack­age, in­clud­ing ad­di­tional ANC funds for those farm­ers in dif­fi­culty.

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