A survey of 364 Teagasc clients, carried out during January, showed that 73% of farmers have sufficient feed to meet their livestock’s requirements until the planned end of the winter housing period.
There was 12% of farms with a winter feed deficit of up to 10%, with the remaining farmers (15%) reporting a deficit of greater than 10%. A 10% fodder deficit would equate to two weeks' feeding over a five-month winter. On average there was a fodder requirement of 51 t DM on farms with 69 t DM of fodder in stock on these farms. In all provinces of the country there appears to be sufficient fodder to meet requirements until the planned turnout date.
Commenting on the results, Teagasc Ruminant Nutrition specialist, Brian Garry said: “While, on average, farmers have reported having enough fodder on hands, one in four farmers reported a fodder deficit, with over half of these reporting a deficit of greater than 10%. So the effects of last summer’s drought could still be felt this spring. This situation could be exacerbated if we get a late spring, resulting in a later turnout than planned on the farms completing this survey.”
Brian Garry reminded farmers of the importance of rechecking fodder supplies and to make arrangements to allow for sufficient quantities of fodder to be available should poor weather conditions occur at expected turnout.
In summary, Brian Garry said: “Overall there has been an improvement in the national fodder situation, however caution should still be taken on farm to avoid silage losses and ensure fodder is available if weather conditions deteriorate later in the spring. The exceptional over winter grass growth will only be of benefit if it is utilised by livestock. Most importantly farmers should take care to ensure health and safety of themselves, family members and employees during this busy period on farm.”