How robust are your feeding and management plans for winter?

Feeding and management in liquid milk herds will be the focus of an information event set to be held in Galway next week.

The talk, which is organised in a joint effort through Teagasc, Arrabawn Co-op and Arrabawn’s Milk for Profit advisory support service, will be held on the farm of Michael Freeney, situated in Derrydonnell, Oranmore.

The Eircode for the event is: H9Y7D2.

Set to be held next Thursday, December 6, the event will run between 11:00am and 1:00pm.

Topics on the day will include: feeding the liquid milk herd; breeding – optimum cow type; labour efficiency; and options for farmers experiencing fodder shortages.

Teagasc dairy specialists Joe Patton and George Ramsbottom will both speak on the day.

Speaking at the 2018 Teagasc National Dairy Conference yesterday (Tuesday 27), Patton echoed his concerns that a 10% shortage in feed now, is a 100% shortage next March.

Patton outlined that a key lesson from spring 2018 was that even a small deficit in fodder can turn into a complete lack of feed for a significant duration in spring.

A 10% deficit in winter feed is enough of a deficit that requires action, he explained.

There are various options available to farmers to fill the gap in winter feed. These include: restricting silage and offering supplementary concentrates; culling non-productive stock; and sourcing extra fodder, he noted.

Going forward, weather risk is a reality of farming and can cause a significant shock to the production system; such events can put pressure on finances and labour in particular, Patton added.

The impact of such extreme weather on dairy farmers across the country can be minimised by saving surplus supplies of high-quality silage.

He recommended producing a crisis reserve of silage in the form of an extra 500-800kg of DM for each cow in the herd, in addition to the herds winter fodder demands.