The View from Teagasc: Teagasc will launch a Winter Fodder and Financial Survival Guide at the National Ploughing Championships tomorrow.

The six-page booklet, which will also be available on line, confirms that one in five farmers is still short 20 per cent of their feed requirements. This is the headline figure coming from a fodder survey carried out by Teagasc earlier this month. Just over 1,200 farmers took part in the project

A Teagasc spokesman told AgriLand that the fodder survey highlighted that farmers in all parts of the country and across all sectors are facing into the winter with a possible shortfall in forage stocks.

He added: “Most farmers seem to work on the basis of a winter feeding period extending to 140 days. In reality, this figure should be 160 days, which makes the scale of the estimated fodder shortfall all the more concerning.”

The survival guide outlines how farmers can make best use of forage stocks over the coming winter months. All classes of ruminant livestock: dairy cows, sucklers, finishing cattle, weanlings and sheep are covered in the advisory section of the publication. The option of feeding meals and straw, as a means of filling the forage gap, is covered in some detail.

The section of the guide dealing with farm finances strongly advises farmers to draw up a 12 month cash flow plan. Specific reference is made to. Professional advice that can be secured to help farmers through the winter head includes the back-up available from local Teagasc advisors.

“Farmers must take stock of their situation, now,” the Teagasc advisor continued. “Leaving it to the last minute will only serve to exacerbate any problems that might exist. Farmers should not ignore the risk of an early winter or a late spring.”

He concluded: “Building a reserve into feed budgets is also crucially important. A surplus of two bales of silage per livestock unit at the end of the winter is a valuable asset!

Image O’Gorman Photography