Is there enough fodder available in the UK to import into Ireland?

This morning Dairygold confirmed that it will import 2,500t of hay and haylage into Ireland in the coming days to alleviate some of the pressures currently facing farmers.

Fodder shortages are now evident across the country and are continuing to worsen with each passing day.

Also Read: Poll Results: 30% of farmers don’t have enough fodder to reach the end of the week

Speaking to AgriLand, Dairygold chairman John O’Gorman said: “I couldn’t say that there is an excess availability [of fodder] in England.

We were lucky in that we had communication and distribution channels open to us because of our experiences in 2013.

“We were able to pick up the phone and ring people over the bank holiday weekend to find out what the availability was like, to find out prices and so forth, and then arrange for the transport back into Ireland.

“We were able to do it relatively quickly, because we had an established route,” O’Gorman said.

It is believed that other co-ops are in the process of making similar arrangements to import fodder into the country, with further announcements expected in the coming days. There is a distinct possibility that Irish co-ops may have to source fodder in continental Europe.

Dairygold willing to import additional fodder

Continuing, O’Gorman explained that Dairygold is willing to import additional fodder supplies if weather conditions do not improve in the coming weeks.

“If it’s necessary, we will go and meet the needs of our suppliers and our shareholders. This is a farm-family welfare issue as much as an animal welfare issue.

There are high stress levels amongst farmers that are out of feed or who are getting close to the back walls of their silage pits; there is a lot of anxiety there.

“We took a measure of that for the last week or 10 days, we sourced a lot of product locally, put farmers in contact with one another and so forth.

“We started to sense a tightening in the market over the weekend; we felt it was time to step in and take a little bit of the pressure off the market,” he said.

The co-op confirmed that it will provide the fodder to its members at cost price at source in the UK and that the fodder will be distributed to its farmers via Dairygold’s branch network across the Munster catchment region.

The decision to import fodder was taken so that Dairygold – as a co-op – would not be competing with farmer-to-farmer trade, the chairman noted.

“We recognise that there is some fodder available, but it is getting extremely tight. We feel that it was important, from our members’ point of view, to introduce some fodder into the market and satisfy demand there.

“If needs be, we will increase the amount that will come in – but, our initial move is to bring in 2,500t of haylage and hay,” O’Gorman added.

He noted that some farmers have enough fodder in front of them for the next three weeks and that they want to keep that for themselves, because they can’t see an end to the current spell of bad weather.

The extent of the supply issues facing farmers at present differs greatly from case to case, he said.

A different fodder crisis compared to 2013

The Dairygold chairman explained that the current fodder crisis being experienced by farmers is different to the one witnessed five years ago.

“It’s a different problem from a farmer’s point of view. In 2013, you had very cold, very dry, very hard weather.

“Ground conditions, you could nearly say, were excellent for grazing; cows could go out and graze very, very tight. Cows were content outside once they were being well looked after going through the parlour and getting a little bit of forage.

This is a different situation; ground conditions are saturated at the minute – so stock can’t leave the sheds for any period of time really.

“For the vast majority of our farmers that I’m speaking to, they are unable to get stock out of the sheds and that is creating a lot of stress for farmers – physically as well as mentally,” he concluded.