Contractors around the country have reported that 15% less first-cut silage was harvested on average this year compared to 2022.

It was one of the main results of a survey of 350 members of the Association of Farm and Forestry Contractors in Ireland (FCI) presented to a meeting of the National Fodder and Food Security Committee (NFFSC) today (Wednesday, July 19).

The output of these FCI contractors is about 35,000ha which accounts about 10% of the total silage area of the country.


Michael Moroney, national chair of the FCI, noted that first-cut silage harvests varied widely depending on location.

In some areas, harvests were up by 10%, while in other places there was around 66% less.

“A lot of that 66% less would be in the western areas and a lot of it is weather impacted as well,” he said.

Contractors reported that drystock farms, particularly in the west of the country, showed a decrease in silage acres harvested which included bale silage numbers and volumes of pit silage.

“What our members have noted is that stock numbers seem to have fallen, particularly in the western region. As a result of that there was a lower demand for silage among their customers this year.

“That’s also been reflected in less cattle slurry being spread in the spring of this year, which indicates lower stock numbers on some of these drystock farms,” Moroney told the NFFSC.

The FCI survey found that less fertiliser was being spread on those drystock farms in the spring.

Contractors noted that “quite a few” of these farms are converting to organic production, which the farmers said was “a better financial option”.

On intensive dairy farming areas, in the south and southeast in particular, FCI members said there was very little carryover of silage from 2022.

“That has resulted in a bit of a deficit of about 20% in some of those firms, relative to last year when there would have been about 20% carryover from 2021 into 2022,” Moroney said.

Chair of the NFFSC Mike Magan said that the committee may return to the issue of lower stocking rates in the west of the country when it meets again in September.

Following the rain in recent days, contractors also said that second cuts are “bulking well”.