Fodder shortage: Teagasc receiving phone calls ‘morning, noon and night’

Teagasc is receiving phone calls “morning, noon and night” in light of the fodder shortage that’s gripping farms across the country, Teagasc’s Dermot McCarthy said.

Speaking at a meeting of the Inter-Agency Fodder Committee earlier today, the Teagasc head of advisory services said: “We are inundated with phone calls from clients and non-clients.

“At this stage, we have to seriously talk about what we are going to do going forward because we are facing into an unprecedented winter due to two disasters – the winter/spring and the drought.

“We need to take actions and we need to get the right messages out. It’s still not winter and we are storing the problem as a result of drought for next winter.

It’s easier to do something about it now than it will be next December or March.

Also Read: Census results: Estimates of national fodder deficit now at 28%

Martin Ryan, technical support manager at Glanbia, outlined how things are looking in Glanbia’s catchment. He said: “We are very much in the worst-affected areas.

“Our average farmer – if you do a fodder budget for the winter – is about 30% short today. The likelihood of an improvement in fodder stocks in the absence of any vast recovery is unlikely.

Across our entire territory and taking both beef and dairy cattle, there’s possibly 3 million tonnes of silage shortage or 700,000kg of dry matter.

“The milk supply is being sustained by a fair extent by feeding 50% concentrate-type material, 25% in the form of forage or imported fodder and between 20% and 30% in the form of actual grass. It’s a difficult situation.”

Dairygold nutrition advisor Coleman Purcell touched on how farmers in the processor’s Munster catchment are fairing.

“At present, the amount of grass in the diet is between 0kg and 4kg of dry matter. Most of our suppliers are feeding some sort of a forage other than grass at this stage. Average feeding levels are typically about 6kg in the parlour and 4-5kg of some straight or simple blend outside of that.

“Most are very worried about the silage situation for the winter at this stage,” he said.