The View from Northern Ireland: Farmers should now be completing a fodder budget to determine whether they have adequate supplies of forage for their stock this winter.

James and Andrew Adair manage a herd of around 130 cows plus replacements near Kells, Co Antrim.  The difficult weather conditions experienced in the summer of 2012 and subsequent winter has meant that all reserves of forage were used up on the farm. James and Andrew are implementing the following procedures to address any potential fodder shortages:

  • A fodder budget was prepared for the farm where existing stocks of forage were estimated and compared against demands for forage by the different classes of stock on the farm
  • Additional haylage was produced which Andrew plans to feed to dry stock
  • Cows that have been diagnosed not in calf will be culled thus reducing the demand for forage
  • Extra land has been allocated for third cut silage. Aftermath regrowth areas received an application of slurry and 67 kgN/ ha (53 units/ acre) to maximise yield of third cut silage
  • Grazing areas have also received 33 kg N/ ha (27 units/ acre) following the last grazing to allow more use to be made of grazed grass over the coming weeks and into the autumn
  • Subsoiling equipment has been used to alleviate soil compaction on some areas of the farm and increase grass production
  • James and Andrew are planning to reseed additional areas this autumn

Pictured Andrew reviewing grazing covers for the dairy herd

By Aidan Cushnahan, Dairying Development Adviser, Greenmount Campus, College of Agriculture, Food and Rural Enterprise, Northern Ireland