Farm­ers urged to stick with first cut silage tar­gets

Irish Independent - Farming - - NEWS -

FARM­ERS have been urged to stick with tar­get dates for first cut silage and to close as much ground as is fea­si­ble over the com­ing weeks.

De­lay­ing the clos­ing of ground for first cut silage “was not the an­swer” and “would be counter-pro­duc­tive”, Joe Pat­ton of Tea­gasc main­tained.

He said farm­ers should aim for first and sec­ond cuts of silage, de­spite the cur­rent weather-re­lated dif­fi­cul­ties, rather than try­ing for one big cut in late June or early July.

While the Tea­gasc spe­cial­ist ac­cepted that clos­ing graz­ing ground will be chal­leng­ing on many hold­ings that are short of grass, he said fail­ing to meet tar­get dates for first cut silage will re­sult in more se­ri­ous prob­lems later in the year.

Mr Pat­ton said push­ing the first cut back by a week or 10 days would be un­der­stand­able, but he claimed that de­lay­ing by any more will “con­trib­ute to more prob­lems than it will solve”.

The gen­eral pic­ture on grass growth has im­proved con­sid­er­ably over the last fort­night. Growth rates have hit 55kg/ha/ day on ground where fer­tiliser has been spread.

How­ever, farms that have not spread suf­fi­cient fer­tiliser are strug­gling with growth rates of between 25kg/ha/day and 35kg/ha/day, de­pend­ing on soil type.

Mr Pat­ton said grass growth in ex­cess of 50kg/ha/day of­fers an op­por­tu­nity for farm­ers to close silage ground, but hold­ings with growth rates at half this level will strug­gle, he ad­mit­ted.

Heavy ground

Farm­ers on heavy ground are strug­gling to get stock out in many parts of the coun­try. The prob­lem has been felt in many ar­eas along the west coast and has been par­tic­u­larly se­vere on heav­ily stocked dairy units in Mun­ster, where heavy rains at the end of last week re­sulted in a sharp de­te­ri­o­ra­tion of graz­ing con­di­tions.

The sit­u­a­tion varies from farm to farm but many milk sup­pli­ers are be­ing forced to feed 8-10kg of con­cen­trates per day to make up for poor grass in­takes.

De­mand for fod­der in the north-west has eased over the last week. One feed trader in the area said hauliers were draw­ing mixed loads of straw and hay but that the se­vere pres­sure had abated.

Round bales of hay are trad­ing for €45-50, while 8x4x3 bales of oaten and wheaten straw are sell­ing for €70.

Mean­while, Vin­cent Roddy of the INHFA warned that the fod­der cri­sis had piled debt on farm­ers.

He said a se­ri­ous “farmer wel­fare is­sue” was emerg­ing and he urged the Min­is­ter for Agri­cul­ture Michael Creed to pay all out­stand­ing monies owed to farm­ers and to con­sider the es­tab­lish­ment of a hard­ship fund for strug­gling farm­ers.

Mr Creed con­firmed bal­anc­ing pay­ments of al­most €19m un­der the sheep wel­fare scheme to 20,000 farm­ers had be­gun.

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