Fodder census announced for July 1

A fodder census will be conducted nationally over the next three weeks, the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed, and Teagasc have announced.

Details of the July 1 Teagasc / Inter Agency Fodder Census were announced at the Teagasc BEEF 2018 open day in Grange, Co. Meath, today (Tuesday, June 26).

Farmers attending the Grange open day can call to the Teagasc advisory stand to complete a fodder budget for their own farm, and assess their progress towards having adequate stocks of feed in the yard for winter 2018 / spring 2019.

Census

The fodder census was officially launched by Minister Creed and a second census is planned for September 1.

Dr. Siobhan Kavanagh, Teagasc regional advisory manager for Carlow, Wicklow and Wexford, said that Teagasc advisors will complete fodder budgets for a random sample of clients and this will be complemented by samples completed by co-ops and farm organisations.

When completed, this survey will give a measure of the fodder situation nationally and will help in the planning of any further actions that may be necessary this autumn.

Speaking at BEEF 2018, Minister Creed welcomed the launch of the Teagasc / Inter Agency Fodder Census. He stated that the information provided from this survey would be “critical” to ensuring that Irish farmers have adequate fodder stocks for winter 2018.

Shortages

Many farmers in the country experienced fodder shortages last spring, due to the difficult weather conditions and extended housing period for livestock.

The Inter Agency Fodder Committee, chaired by Dermot McCarthy, head of Teagasc Advisory Services, has been meeting since March to help farmers through the difficult spring period.

Their work has continued into the summer to help rebuild stocks of silage and hay on farms during the peak grass-growing season.

Joe Patton, dairy specialist at Teagasc, said that it is imperative that all farmers carry out a fodder budget in the next few weeks.

“Resilience to adverse weather must now be built into feed plans over time,” he said.

While first-cut silage yielded relatively well this year, emerging drought conditions may result in lower than expected second-cut yields; Patton cautioned.

“This will have to be accounted for in fodder budgets,” he said.

In deficit circumstances, options such as selling low-performance stock, contract feeding of young stock and sourcing alternative winter feeds – including forward purchasing of straights (soya hulls, beet pulp or palm kernal meal) – should now be explored in detail, Teagasc advises.

Circumstances

The relative cost difference between purchased silage and concentrate feeds is relatively small. Also, moderate changes to stock numbers can have a marked effect on reducing winter feed demand.

Fintan Phelan, Teagasc farm management specialist, said that while merchant credit was used this spring to finance additional feed inputs, it is now time to put finances on a more solid footing – and this may mean re-organising loans or working capital in consultation with lenders.

A fodder budget sheet can be downloaded from the publications section of Teagasc’s website.