Huge con­cerns as farm­ers face ‘per­fect storm’

Wicklow People - - NEWS -

THE fod­der cri­sis con­tin­ued across the coun­try and in­deed through­out County Wick­low this week, with many farm­ers at their wits’ end at the prospect of run­ning out of an­i­mal feed and bed­ding.

In Manor Kil­bride, county coun­cil­lor and farmer Jim Rut­tle said that he has about two weeks of silage left in stock.

‘We have about two week’s worth left, maybe less,’ he said. ‘Many fac­tors have con­trib­uted to the per­fect storm and, while it is un­der­stood that the im­ported fod­der will be avail­able to all who need it and not just the dairy sec­tor, there are huge con­cerns.’

Cllr Rut­tle said that while the fod­der cri­sis is the most press­ing of is­sues, farm­ers are also con­cerned about the lack of grass growth which will have reper­cus­sions later this year and into next year.

‘Last au­tumn, farm­ers had trou­ble get­ting the bales out and there­fore they had less hay and silage. At this time of the year, the grass should be hop­ping out of the ground but it’s not. Grass needs an am­bi­ent tem­per­a­ture of around eight de­grees but we haven’t ex­pe­ri­enced that and the cold and wet have just stopped the growth. Usu­ally, we would have a first cut in late May and if this doesn’t hap­pen it im­pacts neg­a­tively on the se­cond cut as well so, look­ing ahead, we are al­ready con­cerned at fu­ture stocks,’ he said.

Ac­cord­ing to Cllr Rut­tle, 2,500 tonnes of silage have been im­ported so far, com­pared with 114,000 tonnes dur­ing the last fod­der cri­sis in 2013 – so much more will be still re­quired.

‘We are go­ing through much more bed­ding as we have had the cat­tle in the shed since last Oc­to­ber. Usu­ally we would be able to put them out in March but we couldn’t this year. When stocks are low, farm­ers end up ra­tioning, which they do not want to do. This cre­ates a lot of con­cern about the wel­fare of their an­i­mals.’

Cllr Rut­tle said that if this was to be the sit­u­a­tion ev­ery year go­ing for­ward, farm­ers will have to look at another way of do­ing things so that they are not left in such a vul­ner­a­ble po­si­tion in the fu­ture.

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