A total of 33% of farmers around the country have a fodder shortage to some degree, according to Teagasc’s latest survey update on the fodder situation nationwide.

In a fodder census carried out by the agricultural authority at the end of October, it was found that the average deficit of these farmers is approximately 15%.

It was also found that 22% of farmers have a fodder deficit of 10% or higher, according to the latest update, while the overall deficit comes in at -1% nationwide.

The average 15% shortage is equivalent to a deficit of three weeks’ worth of feeding, based on a 145-day winter, according to Teagasc.

In terms of farmer survey respondents with a deficit, 42% reported a shortfall of 1-10%; meanwhile, 33% said that they had a shortage of 10-20%.

15% of farmers with insufficient fodder recorded a deficit of 20-30%, while a further 10% reported a shortcoming of 30% or more.

Of the farms reporting a deficit, 60% were drystock, while 40% were dairy.

In terms of cash-flow, 71% of respondents reported that their current situation is “good”. Furthermore, 7% described their position as “very good”.

On the other end of the scale, 20% reported a “poor” cash-flow situation, with 2% calling their circumstances “very poor”.

Fodder budgeting

In terms of advice arising from the survey, Teagasc urged farmers to avoid complacency heading into winter.

Farmers are advised to do a fodder budget at the beginning of the housing period, with a repeat budget in early January.

A reserve of three to four weeks is recommended to allow for a late spring.

If there is a deficit on the farm, owners and managers should budget forage and feed additional meals to fill the gap.

Farmers should also put a plan in place to deal with the financial cost of 2018.

“Broadly speaking there has been quite an improvement but still a percentage of farmers showing shortages; that’s definitely the case,” according to Teagasc dairy specialist Joe Patton.