It is understood that the next meeting of the fodder action group recently established by the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed, will take place in early January.

Earlier this month, Minister Creed set up the fodder action group in order to ensure a co-ordinated approach to the issue of fodder availability in affected areas – particularly in the north-west region. The first meeting was held on December 11.

The group is chaired by Teagasc and comprises of all the main stakeholders, including feed merchants and co-ops, as well as banking and farm bodies.

In a statement to AgriLand, the department outlined that the group’s objective is to “actively monitor the fodder situation and to ensure co-ordinated expertise and guidance is available to affected farmers regarding their options.

“These may include sourcing alternative feed, advice on nutrition needs and options, reducing non-breeding stock numbers and ensuring they continue to carry out fodder budgeting.

Over the coming weeks Teagasc advisers – working with the support of the group – will focus on those farmers in particular who have already flagged that they may have fodder issues, in order to help them successfully plan for the winter ahead .

“Minister Creed will continue to monitor the fodder situation on the ground through feedback from the group,” the department said.

Meanwhile, Tom Coll – a drystock advisor for Teagasc, who is based in Mohill, Co. Leitrim – reminded farmers who are facing a fodder shortage that help is out there; he encouraged those farmers to call into their local Teagasc office if they are in need of advice or support.

Speaking to AgriLand, Coll advised farmers who have 50% or more of their fodder needs for winter available, to stretch it out and supplement it with concentrates. Feed mills in the worst-affected areas have been contacted and they are supplying suitable rations and mixes to farmers facing into a fodder shortage, he said.

He outlined that the cost of transporting fodder in some cases is just not viable.

In order to reduce their fodder needs, farmers have decided to sell off some cull cows or weanlings in the marts in recent weeks in badly hit areas – with a noticeable increase evident, according to Coll. This is just one of the tools that Teagasc advised farmers to consider when dealing with a fodder shortage.

Concluding, Coll urged farmers – if they have not done so already – to carry out a fodder budget. This will be a valuable tool when trying to determine the most economical way for farmers to get through the winter period.